Saturday, 20 January 2018

Sébastien Leclerc’s etching, “Battle of the Granicus River”, 1696


Sébastien Leclerc I (aka Sébastien Le Clerc) (1637–1714)

“Battle of the Granicus River” (aka “La Vertu surmonte tout obstacle” [Virtue surmounts every obstacle]), 1696, from the series, “Les Batailles d'Alexandre”, after the painting by Charles Le Brun (1619–90), published by Nicolas I Langlois (1640–1703)

Etching with engraving on laid paper trimmed to the image borderline with a tab showing the printmaker’s name, lined with a support sheet.
Size: (support-sheet) 28.7 x 38.7 cm; (sheet, without tab) 11.4 x 24 cm

Jombert 1774 257.2 (Charles-Antoine Jombert 1774, “Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de Sébastien Leclerc, chevalier romain”, 2 vol, Paris); IFF 459.IV (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Battle of the Granicus River, with Alexander the Great on horseback at centre, behind him Cleitus brandishing his axe to save him from a Persian enemy, beyond at left the army crossing the river” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1627600&partId=1&searchText=Leclerc+battle&page=1)

Condition: a crisp and well-inked impression, trimmed along the image borderline and re-margined on a support sheet. The print is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing). (Note: I “think” that I recall a small restoration but I cannot find this spot and so I am not sure.)

I am selling this superlatively fine etching for AU$118 (currently US$94.45/EUR77.25/GBP68.17 at the time of posting this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost.

If you are interested in acquiring this sensitively executed and technically superb print from the late 17th century, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This composition of Alexander the Great in battle with the Persians at the Granicus River in 334 BC was famously painted by Charles Le Brun (1619–90) to draw parallels between the virtues of Alexander and Louis XIV. Indeed if one looks closely at Leclerc’s etched translation of Le Brun’s painting (actually a loupe may be necessary as the details are so fine) and focuses on the image of Alexander shown on horseback at the centre, Alexander’s face has a soft likeness to that of the Sun King: Louis XIV.

Although this is a relatively small print—and I must add here that I am pleased that it is not any smaller or the details would need to be examined through a microscope—there is a much larger version of Le Brun’s painting engraved by Gérard Audran’s (aka Girard Audran) (1640–1703). To say that Audran’s print is larger is not really the full truth. His print is HUGE! It is printed on four sheets measuring in total, 70 x 137.6 cm: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Granicus#/media/File:Crossing_of_the_Granicus,_G%C3%A9rard_Audran_after_Charles_Le_Brun,_1672.jpg



Louis XIV portrayed as Alexander the Great?





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