Thursday, 8 November 2018

Paul Edme Le Rat’s etching, “L'Argiphonte”, 1881


Paul Edme Le Rat (aka Paul Edmunde Le Rat; Paul Edme Lerat) (1842/49–1892)
“L'Argiphonte”, 1881, published in “L'Art”, 1881, volume XXVII, page 95, printed by Alfred Salmon (fl.1863-1894) after the painting by Gustave Léon Antoine Marie Popelin (1859–1936).

Etching on cream wove paper with margins (as published) backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 34.7 x 22.6 cm; (plate) 31 x 19.3 cm; (image borderline) 26.4 x 15.2 cm
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Gustave Popelin pinx./ L'Art”;
(centre) “L'ARGIPHONTE”; (right) “P. Le Rat sc./ Imp. A. Salmon.”

Beraldi 1885–92 1; IFF 64

Condition: crisp impression with full margins in near faultless condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds abrasions, significant stains). The sheet has been laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this graphically strong etching, for AU$142 in total (currently US$103.56/EUR90.61/GBP79.01 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this visually arresting etching, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
 This print has been sold


This eye-catching etching shows the mythological god Hermes (aka Mercury; Argeiphontes; L'Argiphonte) holding aloft the head of Argus (aka Argos) who he has just beheaded with a sickle. For those who may be wondering about the story leading up to this rather dreadful scene, the sequence of events is as complicated as it is fascinating. Let me try to explain …

Hermes was sent by the Zeus—the king of the gods—to slay Argus—a herdsman nicknamed, Argus Panoptes (transl. “all seeing”), because he was literally covered with eyes. The reason for this murder assignment was because Zeus’ wife, Hera, had given Argus the responsibility of guarding a very beautiful black and white heifer named “Io.”

This is where the story has an incredibly interesting twist.

Io was not just any cow, she was actually Zeus’ true love cleverly disguised by Zeus as a heifer so that Hera wouldn’t find out about his sexual proclivity for doe-eyed lovelies. Of course, Hera knew about Zeus’ strong desire for this particular heifer and this is why she gave Argus, the many-eyed herdsman, the job of preventing Zeus from expressing his deep admiration for Io.

The way that Hermes kills Argus is devilishly simple: Hermes pretends that he too is a herdsman like Argus—hence his lightweight skimpy outfit—and bores lonely Argus with so many tiring stories that all of Argus’ eyes went to sleep. At that moment Hermes lopped off Argus’ head with his handy sickle. Needless to say Hera was not impressed and extracts all of Argus’ eyes and places them in a passing peacock’s tail.









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