Gallery of prints for sale

Monday 4 March 2019

Jean Jacques de Boissieu's etching, “Portrait of Pope Pius VII”, 1805

Jean Jacques de Boissieu (aka Jean Jacques de Boissieux) (1736–1810)

“Portrait of Pope Pius VII” (Fitzwilliam title) (aka “Portrait du Souveriain Pontife Pie VII.” [Perez title]); “Pio VII Pont. Max [inscribed on plate]), 1805.

Etching with drypoint and roulette on chine collé on laid paper with wide margins backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 44.8 x 34.2 cm; (chine collé) 27.1 x 21 cm; (plate) 26.5 x 22 cm; (image borderline) 20.2 x 16.5 cm
Inscribed below the image borderline: (left) “Pio VII. / gregorio Chiaramonti / Dessiné a son passage à Lyon”; (right) “pont. Max. / nato in cesena 1742. / par j.j. De Boissieu en 1805.”; (right corner) “J. J. DB [monogram] scul. / aqua forti".

State iii? (of v) Note that I have difficulty understanding the differences described by Perez (1994) for the five states. My attribution that this impression is from third state is based upon my understanding that the small strip of light immediately above the Holy Father’s stole/camail matches Parez’ description of the third state: (transl.) “behind the shoulder, the work of roulette does not go to the garment and leaves a grey patch near the stole” (p. 280). In the fifth and final state this “grey patch” has “New roulette work” (ibid). I cannot see any roulette work, consequently, I assume that the impression is from the third state … but I may be wrong.

Perez 129.III (Perez, Marie-Félicie 1994, “L'Oeuvre gravé de Jean-Jacques de Boissieu”, Geneva, pp. 130–31); IFF 15 (19thc) (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930).

Perez in his catalogue raisonné (p.280) offers the following description of this print:
(Transl.) “The Sovereign Pontiff is seen in profile, turned to the left and half-body. His eyes are lowered, his half-opened lips outline a smile full of sweetness. Under an ecclesiastical cap, abundant hair covers the head, hides the ear and falls on the neck. A camail, enriched with an embroidery of a light design, is attached to a cord on the front of the chest. The profile of the head stands out in light against a dark background, while the occiput is in effect in shadows less thick. In the middle of the bottom margin are engraved keys and tiara; these insignia of the sovereign pontificate …” (p. 280).

See also the description of this print at the Fitzwilliam Museum
and at the British Museum

Condition: richly inked and near faultless impression with generously wide margins (as published?) in excellent condition. The sheet has been laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper.

I am selling this remarkably sensitive portrait that seems (to my eyes) to capture what the Holy Father is thinking and his kind disposition, for the total cost of AU$196 (currently US$138.90/EUR122.47/GBP105.08 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this graphically powerful but delicately executed portrait, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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