Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Sébastien Le Clerc’s etching, “Facit Omnia Laeta”, c.1670

Sébastien Le Clerc I (1637–1714)
“Facit Omnia Laeta” (He makes all things prosperous), c.1670, from André Félibien’s (1619–95) “Tapisseries du Roi, où sont représentez les quatre élémens et les quatre saisons” (Tapestries of the King [Louis XIV], representing the four elements and the four seasons), after Jacques Bailly (1629–1679), printed from the original plate held in the Chalcographie du Louvre by Frazier-Soye (or Vernant?) in 1923 for the art revue, “Byblis.”

Etching in dark brown ink on cream wove paper (vélin Lafuma) with margins as published in an edition of 600.
Size: (sheet) 28.2 x 22.6 cm; (plate) 20.8 x 19.1 cm

The British Museum offers the description of another plate by Leclerc from the same series (but not published in “Byblis”):

Condition: faultless impression in pristine condition

I am selling this curiously interesting print executed in the 17th century but printed from the original plate in the 20th century for the total cost of AU$134 (currently US$100.17/EUR91.75/GBP77.49 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this original print that uses frogs to express the joy that Louis XIV brought to the world, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

At first glance one could be mistaken for believing that this print is an ex libris bookplate (i.e. a print stating in Latin that the book in which it is affixed is from the collection, or library, of a book’s owner whose name is yet to be inscribed upon the print) … but it isn’t! Instead this remarkable image of a landscape framed with a reed wreath held by frogs is a design for a tapestry planned to grace the abode of Louis XIV— France’s Sun King/le Roi Soleil (1638–1715).

For those who may be curious about the significance of a frog framed landscape to the Sun King, the following proposal may be flawed, but from what I can piece together from my evening’s research, the meaning behind the print is not too obscure.

Essentially, this print is a part of a series of images featuring the four elements and seasons, devised by the Tapestry Manufacturers (Manufacture nationale des Gobelins) as propaganda material celebrating the virtues of Louis XIV. The scenic view of water and frogs portrayed is not really all that surprising as water was a critical element for Louis XIV in terms of his vision of protecting his maritime subjects from pirates and securing safe sea routes to the colonies.

According to Thomas P. Campbell (et al.) in “Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor” (2007) the element of water had special significance to Louis XIV as it represented his envisaged virtues of “piety, magnanimity, kindliness and valor” (p. 358). What is fascinating for me is that the prints in the series subliminally reference these virtues. For instance, the virtue of piety is visually expressed in another print in the series by “the boundless expanse of the sea” and the virtue of magnanimity is suggested by a “high-sprouting fountain.” To ensure that the visual expression of these virtues is not lost, like this print, inscriptions help clarify the addressed virtue. For example, the image of “the boundless expanse of the sea” has the textual annotation, “Never does he [Louis XIV] transgress the coastline”, and the image of a “high-sprouting fountain” is annotated with “He seeks the relentless font” (ibid.).

Regarding this print, these very happy frogs supporting the view of a river bringing fertility to the land fits very well with the King’s virtue of kindliness, in the sense that is explained by the Latin inscription, “Facit Omnia Laeta”—He makes all things prosperous.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know your thoughts, advice about inaccuracies (including typos) and additional information that you would like to add to any post.