Monday, 10 April 2017

Ferdinand Gaillard’s engraving after Ingres’ painting, “Oedipus and the Sphinx”, 1808


Ferdinand Gaillard (aka Claude Ferdinand Gaillard) (1834-87)
“Oedipe”, c.1870, after Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ (1780–1867) painting, “Oedipus and the Sphinx/Oedipe et le Sphinx”, 1808–27 (in the Louvre [R.F. 218]), published in “La Gazette des Beaux Arts” in September 1867 and as plate 7 in “Les chefs d’œuvre”. This impression was printed by Taneur in Paris.

Engraving on warm buff coloured chine collé laid on heavy white wove paper with margins (as published?).
Size: (sheet) 30.9 x 21.2 cm; (plate) 23.3 x 17.8 cm; (chine collé) 21.8 x 16.1 cm; (image borderline) 19.1 x 14.6 cm
Inscribed on the rock which Oedipus rests his left foot: "I INGRES / PINGEBAT / 1808"
Lettered below the image borderline: (lower left) “INGRES PINXT” / “Les chefs d’œuvre _ 7”; (lower centre) “ŒDIPE” / “(MUSÉ NATIONAL DU LOUVRE)”; (lower right) "GAILLARD DEL ET SCULPT" / “Imp. Taneur, Paris.”

Beraldi 1885-92 24.V (Henri Beraldi 1885, “Les Graveurs du dix-neuvième siècle”, 12 vols plus supplement, Paris); IFF 35 (“Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes”, Paris, 1930); see also the description of this print held by the British Museum: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3365158&partId=1&searchText=Gaillard+oedipus&page=1

Condition: faultless impression in pristine condition.

I am selling this relatively small engraving by one of the major engravers of the 19th century for AU$42 (currently US$31.41/EUR29.68/GBP25.33 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. 
If you are interested in purchasing this small miracle of fine engraving—I need to advise that the linework rendering each detail in this sumptuously rich interpretation of Ingres’ painting is almost microscopic—please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


As a quick reminder about the story illustrated here, the mysterious mythological creature called “the Sphinx”—an interesting amalgam of woman and lion—was sent by Zeus to kill Theban folk who were unable to answer a riddle posed by the creature. In this scene, the Sphinx is shown in state of unhappy apprehension regarding what to “do” about Oedipus who has just provided the correct answer to the riddle: "What goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening?" What we don’t see in this illustration is that the Sphinx resorts to killing herself as a way forward in resolving what to “do”, a plague kills the folk in Thebes and Oedipus fulfils his ultimate mission in life of killing his father and marrying his mother. (Some stories are hard to forget and I wonder about the daily lives of those who concocted such a story!)

From a technical standpoint, this is a masterwork of engraving. The print is relatively small—my outstretched hand can almost cover it—but the microscopic fineness of the lines used to render the details is amazing. I know that there are still master engravers working with comparable skills, discipline and patience (see for example the outstanding work of Florian Güllert [Instagram: @floriangullert_engraving] and David Riccardo [Instagram: @riccardoengraving]) but in terms of achieving such velvety richness in the dark areas and delicately modelled lights, I see Gaillard as being in a league of his own.

By the way, if there are readers who are wondering what the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle might be, the answer is so obvious: “"Man, for as a babe he is four-footed, as an adult he is two-footed, and as an old man he gets a third support, a cane."







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