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Saturday, 14 March 2020

Unidentified artist’s etching after Antoine Watteau’s lost self-portrait, c.1727


Unidentified artist from the circle of Antoine Watteau (aka Jean Antoine Watteau) (1684–1721) and François Boucher (1703–1770)

“Portrait d'Antoine Watteau”,  c.1727, after a lost self-portrait drawing by Antoine Watteau, in reverse to François Boucher’s etching (with engraving) of the same composition (see https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1925.1217) that is the frontispiece for Jean de Jullienne’s “The Works of Antoine Watteau” (L’Oeuvre d’Antoine Watteau) and in the same direction to Boucher’s “trois crayons” portrait of Watteau held by the Museo Conde, Chantilly (France).

My attribution of the date (c.1727) for this etching is based on the publication dates of 1726 and 1728 for the two parts of the series of 351 prints executed by 15 artists after Watteau’s drawings, “'Figures de différents caractères, de Paysages, et d'Etudes dessinées d'après nature par Antoine Watteau peintre du Roy and son Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture Gravées à l' Eau forte par les plus habiles Peintres et Graveurs du temps, tirées des plus beaux cabinets de Paris” (see the background details for Boucher’s etching offered by the Rijksmuseum: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.86340).

Note that the reversal of Boucher’s etching after his chalk with charcoal copy of Watteau’s lost drawing is understandable as the printing process reverses images etched onto the printing plate. What may be interesting to consider is whether this etching by an unidentified artist that is the same direction as Boucher’s drawing may have used a counterproof (i.e. an image created by placing the original chalk drawing onto of another sheet and with pressure transferring the original drawing onto the second sheet) as the model for the etching resulting in a print that matches the direction of the original drawing. Mindful that Watteau is known to have employed this counterproof technique for his chalk drawings.

Etching on fine buff-coloured China paper trimmed within the platemark and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 18 x 14.5 cm.

Condition: excellent impression showing no sign of wear to the printing plate trimmed within the platemark. The sheet has restored and replenished chips and tears, but is free of significant stains or foxing and is laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this sensitively executed self-portrait of one of the most important of the Rococo artists, for the total cost of AU$330 (currently US$204.16/EUR184.03/GBP166.05 at the time of 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 etching of great rarity and historical significance—note that I have been unable to locate another copy of this print in any of the museum repositories!—please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.










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