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Saturday 4 November 2017

Félix Bracquemond’s etching, “Adolescence de Gargantua”, c1870

Félix Bracquemond (aka Joseph Auguste Félix Bracquemond) (1833–1914)
“Adolescence de Gargantua”, c1870, published in “Oeubres de Rabelais” (Paris: Lemerre, 1872), Book I, Chapter XI. The curator of the British Museum advises that this print is one “of fifteen etched illustrations by Bracquemond for 'Oeuvres de Rabelais' … [that was] published as a compilation of Rabelais' works” (see BM no. 1925,0619.33).

Etching on fine laid paper. 
Size: (sheet) 19.2 x 12.2 cm; (plate) 14.6 x 8 cm; (image borderline) 13.3 x 6.9 cm
Proof state before letters

IFF 230 (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930); Beraldi 1885-92 441 (Henri Beraldi 1885, “Les Graveurs du dix-neuvième siècle”, 12 vols plus supplement, Paris, 1885)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Gargantua's childhood: Gargantua, as an infant, surrounded by dogs; a cat seen from behind, at left; behind him, shrubs, and his parents, looking down at him”

Condition: near faultless, proof-state lifetime impression with margins in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this extremely rare proof-state illustration of the fictional character, Gargantua, as a young boy who—according to the great 16th century writer, François Rabelais’ (c1494–1553)—would “piss against the sun, and hide himself in the water for fear of rain” (Chapter 1.XI), for the total cost of AU$148 (currently US$113.65/EUR97.73/GBP85.68 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this amazing print that is literally stacked to the sky with the gargantuan parents of little Gargantua , please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

For those who may be unfamiliar with the works of the great poet and author, François Rabelais (c1494–1553) this etching is an illustration for Rabelais’ “La Vie de Gargantua et Pantagruel.” This 16th century literary masterwork consists of five book that give an account of the—forgive me as I borrow the translated words of the title—“lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel.” (A free eBook copy of these volumes is available from Project Gutenberg, but the illustrations in this version are by Gustave Doré rather than by Bracquemond:

This marvellously inventive illustration needs to be viewed in context with Rabelais’ description of Gargantua's childhood. The following extract from Rabelais’ chapter “Of the youthful age of Gargantua” gives a fitting glimpse into Gargantua’s adolescence:

“Gargantua, from three years upwards unto five, was brought up and instructed in all convenient discipline by the commandment of his father; and spent that time like the other little children of the country, that is, in drinking, eating, and sleeping: in eating, sleeping, and drinking: and in sleeping, drinking, and eating. Still he wallowed and rolled up and down himself in the mire and dirt—he blurred and sullied his nose with filth—he blotted and smutched his face with any kind of scurvy stuff—he trod down his shoes in the heel—at the flies he did oftentimes yawn, and ran very heartily after the butterflies, the empire whereof belonged to his father. He pissed in his shoes, shit in his shirt, and wiped his nose on his sleeve—he did let his snot and snivel fall in his pottage, and dabbled, paddled, and slobbered everywhere—he would drink in his slipper, and ordinarily rub his belly against a pannier. He sharpened his teeth with a top, washed his hands with his broth, and combed his head with a bowl. He would sit down betwixt two stools, and his arse to the ground —would cover himself with a wet sack, and drink in eating of his soup. He did eat his cake sometimes without bread, would bite in laughing, and laugh in biting. Oftentimes did he spit in the basin, and fart for fatness, piss against the sun, and hide himself in the water for fear of rain.” (Chapter 1.XI.)

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