Friday, 30 March 2018

De Claussin’s interpretative etching of a melancholic figure after Jean Jacques de Boissieu, 1817



Chevalier Ignace Joseph de Claussin (1766–1844)

“Le mélancolique: 1 ère  interprétation” (aka “Three-Quarter Bust of a Man” [Met]), 1817, plate 7 from the series/album “Eleven Head Studies”, after the design by Jean Jacques de Boissieu (aka Jean Jacques de Boissieux) (1736–1810), published by J H Rittner (1802–40) and Jean Fréderic Ostervald (1773–1850). Marie-Félicie Perez (1995) in “L'oeuvre gravé de Jean-Jacques de Boissieu”, p. 349, proposes that this etching is an interpretation of a non-localised drawing (“d'un dessin non localise”) in the Vivant-Denon collection, presumably a sanguine drawing “representing an old man’s head.” (Note that the Detroit Institute of Arts holds what I believe is a related pencil drawing by De Boissieu, “La Mélancolie” [1789–1810]; see https://www.dia.org/art/collection/object/la-m%C3%A9lancolie-35003)

Etching on laid paper lined on archival support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 29.4 x 21.6 cm; (plate) 22.4 x 16.6 cm; (image borderline) 20.4 x 16.3 cm
Inscribed below the image borderline at right: “De Boissieu”
State ii (of ii) with erasure of the plate number “7” at upper right shown in state i.

Perez 197 d. “(Marie-Félicie Perez 1995 [reprint of the 1878 catalogue with commentary and extra information], “L'oeuvre gravé de Jean-Jacques de Boissieu 1736–1810)”, Geneva).
See also the description of this print in its first state at The Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/395825

Condition: faultless, well-printed crisp impression in pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, stains, abrasions or foxing) laid upon an archival support sheet.

I am selling this visually arresting and insightful psychological portrait—perhaps based on a self-portrait by De Boissieu interpreted by De Claussin—for AU$140 (currently US$108.17/EUR87.72/GBP76.97 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this intensely observed study of a man in a state of melancholic rumination, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


Although I have no irrefutable proof that this etching is based on a self-portrait by De Boissieu—and even Marie-Félicie Perez’s (1878) comprehensive catalogue does not propose the subject’s name—to my eyes, the facial features of the sitter are very similar to De Boissieu’s formally documented self-portrait, “Self Portrait (with Cows)” (see https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/360121).

From a personal wish to construct a mental picture of the artist, I really want this to be a self-portrait of De Boissieu. After all, the artist’s authenticated self-portrait shares what may be a meaningful connection to this study of a man engaged in dreadful thoughts. What I mean by this is that De Boissieu’s acknowledged self-portrait shows in its early states the artist holding a loving painting of his wife which—shockingly—is erased in later states and replaced with a pastoral scene of cows. This change in the portrayed subject is easy to understand as the artist’s wife died during the execution of the plate and the artist altered the subject to erase painful memories. Mindful of the distressed mindset of the artist, I can see a meaningful link between the evolution of the imagery in the acknowledged self-portrait and this image of man portrayed in painful ruminations. From my standpoint, I fully understand how the death of one’s partner would lead to deep melancholy—the subject of this etching.








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