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Wednesday 25 March 2020

Léopold Flameng’s etching, “The Blue Boy”, 1862, after Gainsborough

Léopold Flameng (aka Léopold Joseph Flameng) (1831–1911)

“The Blue Boy” (aka “L'enfant bleu”), 1862, after Thomas Gainsborough’s (1727 - 1788) famous portrait of the same name (c.1770) in the Huntington Library, San Marino (California), first published in “La Gazette des Beaux Arts”, 1867, vol. 13, p. 113 (see and republished in c.1890 by Imprimerie Charaire et Cie and printed by Chardon-Wittmann (fl.c.1884–1890) in Paris, in Teodor de Wyzewa’s “Les chefs-d'oeuvre de l'art au XIXe siècle”, p. 120 (see This impression is from the later edition.

The fame of Gainsborough’s painting, reputed to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall (1752–1805) dressed in a manner similar to Van Dyck's portrait of Charles II as a boy in “The Children of King Charles I of England”, 1637, rests to a large part on it representing a refutal of advice (shown below) advocated by his rival Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792)—founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts:

“It ought, in my opinion, to be indispensably observed, that the masses of light in a picture be always of a warm, mellow colour, yellow, red, or a yellowish white, and that the blue, the grey, or the green colours be kept almost entirely out of these masses, and be used only to support or set off these warm colours; and for this purpose, a small proportion of cold colour will be sufficient. Let this conduct be reversed; let the light be cold, and the surrounding colour warm, as we often see in the works of the Roman and Florentine painters, and it will be out of the power of art, even in the hands of Rubens and Titian, to make a picture splendid and harmonious” (see Ronald Sutherland Gower 1903, “Thomas Gainsborough”, G. Bell and Sons. pp. 77–78).

Etching on buff coloured chine collé (China) on heavy wove paper with margins as published.
Size: (sheet) 31.5 x 20.9 cm; (plate) 22.8 x 11.9 cm; (chine collé) 22.4 x 11.7 cm; (image borderline) 19.5 x 11.1 cm.
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline: (lower right) “Flameng. S.”
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Gainsboroug[h] pinx./ Les chefs-d’œuvre _ 75”; (centre) “THE BLUE BOY”; (right) "L. Flameng sc./ “Imp. Chardon-Wittmann.”

Beraldi 102 (Henri Beraldi 1885, “Les Graveurs du dix-neuvième siècle”, vol. 11, p. 162, cat. no. 102); IFF 104 (“Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes”, Paris, 1930).

Condition: richly inked and well-printed impression with margins as published. The sheet is in excellent condition but the are faint marks verso.

I am selling this etching by one of the major printmakers of the 19th century of one of Gainsborough’s most famous portraits for AU$172 (currently US$103.85/EUR95.89/GBP87.71 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this superbly executed black and white etching of Gainsborough’s famously blue painting—note how Flameng has shaded the boy’s further back leg with horizontal strokes to set it into shadow—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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