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Thursday 21 July 2022

Émile Boilvin’s etching, “The Snake Charmer”, 1875, after Mariano Fortuny

Émile Boilvin (1845–1899)

“The Snake Charmer” (aka “Le Charmeur de Serpents”), 1875, after Mariano Fortuny’s (aka Mariano José María Bernardo Fortuny y Carbo; Mariano José María Bernardo Fortuny y Marsal) (1838-1874) painting “Encantadores de serpientes hindúes” (Hindu Snake Charmers), 1869, in the collection of the Walter Art Museum (inv. no. 37.117), printed by Alfred Salmon (aka Adolphe Ardail; Salmon & Ardail; Alfred Fortuné Salmon) (fl.1863–1894) and published in Paris in the art periodical, “Gazette des Beaux Arts”, 1875, opposite page 278 (see

The Walters Art Museum offer the following insights regarding Fortuny’s painting (“Encantadores de serpientes hindúes”): “Mariano Fortuny accompanied General Prim's military expedition to Morocco in 1860. Following the defeat of the Moroccan army at the battle of Tétouan, Spain controlled a portion of the western Sahara until 1976. On a number of occasions, Fortuny returned to North Africa, where the clarity of the atmosphere and the intensity of the sunlight profoundly influenced him. In this scene, set outdoors at twilight, a turbaned Indian mesmerizes a cobra with a reed. The artist, a collector of Islamic decorative arts, includes such accessories as a copper bowl, [lustre] plate, and saddle.” (

Etching with plate tone on cream laid paper backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 17.5 x 27.3 cm; (plate) 13 x 23.7 cm; (image borderline) 9.5 x 21.4 cm.

Lettered in plate below the image borderline (left) “FORTUNY PINX./ Gazette des Beaux-Arts.”; (centre) “LE CHARMEUR DE SERPENTS.”; (right) “BOILVIN SCULP./ Imp. A. Salmon, Paris.”

Beraldi 7 (Henri Béraldi 1885, “Les graveurs du XIXe siècle: Guide de l'amateur d'estampes modernes: BELLANGÉ–BOVINET”, vol. 2, Paris, Librairie L. Conquet, p. 150, cat. no. 7 [EAUX-FORTES POUR LA GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS]).

The National Museum of American History offers a description of this print:

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed (near faultless) impression with margins as published and laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper providing larger margins. Beyond a pale mark on the edge at right, the sheet is in an excellent condition.

I am selling this intriguing image of a stork contemplating a snake lying between the bird’s feet while a young man and his companion appear to be (sadly) “toying” with the snake, for AU$231 in total (currently US$159.37/EUR156.10/GBP132.91 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 marvellous etching that not only exemplifies the interest of the time in other cultures (viz. “Orientalism”), but also (at least to my eyes) showcases Fortuny’s fascination with the sparkling effects of light on surfaces, 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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