Monday, 24 April 2017
Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine’s etching “Bust of a Cossack”, 1787
Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine (aka Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gordaine) (1745–1830)
“Buste d’un Cosaque” (Bust of a Cossack), 1787
Etching on cream wove paper (early 19th century impression) with narrow margins and the collector’s stamp of A Thomassin (Lugt 184) recto. (Note: the dealer from whom I purchased this print advised that it was printed on vellum but I doubt that this is true and so I have described it as wove paper instead.)
Size: (sheet) 7.8 x 6.8 cm; (plate) 7 x 6.1 cm
Inscribed in the plate very lightly (almost indecipherably) at top left: “N f 1787”
Hillemacher 1848 66.II (Hillemacher 1848, “Catalogue des estampes qui composent l'oeuvre de Jean-Pierre Norblin”, Paris)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Cossack, bust-length, facing front, with head leaning to left, on white ground; second state, with long lock of hair falling over right shoulder. 1787 Etching” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1533930&partId=1&searchText=Norblin+&page=2); see also the description at https://collections.artsmia.org/art/105163/bust-of-a-cossack-jean-pierre-norblin-de-la-gourdaine
Condition: crisp and faultless early 19th century impression with small margins in near pristine condition. There is a red collector’s stamp (A Thomassin [Lugt 184]) recto.
I am selling this extremely small and etching composed and executed in the tradition of Rembrandt for AU$106 (currently US$80.20/EUR73.91/GBP62.70 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this minature masterpiece, please contact me (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This is a tiny print but it fits into a large tradition of making small portraits dating back to Rembrandt.
What makes this print interesting for me with regard to this tradition is the understanding shown by Norblin in his use of the figure’s silhouette edge. What I mean by this, is that he has chosen not to show any details in the background so that the silhouette shape of the head with the tilt of the head and the subtle bumps in the figure’s clothes become “special.” Note, for instance, the figure’s right shoulder (i.e. the shoulder on the left side of the image) and how the undulations in the chap’s jacket help to visually explain the loose “fit” of the jacket. Going further, note also how Norblin reveals though his layered adjustments/corrections (pentimenti) his commitment to ensure that the figure’s silhouette shape “talks to” the figure’s three-dimensional form.