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Friday 12 January 2018

Frédérique Émilie O'Connell’s etching, “Tête de Sainte Madeleine”, c1849

Frédérique Émilie O'Connell (aka Frédérique Émilie Auguste O'Connell; Frédérique Émilie Auguste Mièthe; Frédérique Émile Auguste O'Connell-Miethe) (1823–1885)

“Tête de Sainte Madeleine” (aka “Tête de femme”; “Head of the Magdalene” [Rijksmuseum title]), c1849, published in “Gazette des Beaux-Arts” (1860), printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822–1907).

Etching on cream chine-collé on wove paper with wide margins lined with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 27 x 17.8 cm; (plate) 7.7 x 5 cm
Inscribed on the plate at lower edge: “Fr. O’Connell aq. for. / imp. Delâtre Paris”
State ii (of ii) with the address of the printer added. (Note: see Philippe Burty’s catalogue raisonné with the different states of O’Connell’s plates listed in Wikipedia for this artist:

Ref: "O'Connell, Frédérique Émilie Auguste". Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010.
See also the (thin) description of this print at the Rijksmuseum:
An exceptionally good discussion about the artist, “A female etcher of the Second Empire: Frederique Emilie O'Connell” is offered by “Adventures in the Print Trade”:

Condition: a crisp, richly inked and well-printed chine-collé impression with wide margins laid upon a fine washi paper support sheet. The print is in very good condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds or significant stains, but there is faint spotting in the margin edges).

I am selling this magnificent (and rare) tiny 19th century masterpiece for the combined total cost of [deleted] including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested this graphically strong etching that projects a much larger scale image than its actual physical dimensions, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This tiny print measuring about the size of one’s little finger—presuming that everyone has a little finger that is 7.7 cm long—is only the second etching that this artist made in her compete oeuvre of ten prints (see Phille Burty’s catalogue raisonné for Frédérique Émilie O'Connell in the “Gazette des Beaux-Arts”. Vol. 5, pp. 353-5). The small size of the print, is not an incidental issue, however, as its diminutive scale serves the special purpose of obliging a viewer to examine the image up close and intimately. Indeed, I suspect that this close scrutiny of the sensuously executed drawing of St Mary Magdalene may have prompted the art critic, Phille Burty, to propose that this print is not only “the most beautiful” of all the artist’s works, but that the “swagger of the effect, and the sureness of the line make this sketch a masterful etching worthy of the greatest Flemish masters" (op. cit.).

What I find especially interesting about the image is the line describing the collar-edge of Magdalene’s gown. This seemingly simple descriptive curved stroke holds the whole composition in check as it counters and anchors the upward twist of the head. To see what I mean, imagine if the composition without this mark and picture how the tension in the twisting rhythm of the head changes. Going further, see how the position of the head becomes spatial ambiguous when the perception of a foreground suggested by the line of the collar is removed.

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