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Thursday 15 September 2016

Charbonnel's etching, “La Cigale”

Jean Louis Charbonnel (1854–85)
“La Cigale”, 1873, printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822–1907)
Etching on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 27.5 x 19 cm; (plate) 15.6 x 11.1 cm

Note that Idburyprints offers a fine description of this etching and where it was published:

Condition: superb impression with generous margins in near pristine condition (there are a few marks verso).

I am selling this very desirable etching of a figure in an Ingres-like pose for AU$93 in total (currently US$69.64/EUR61.83/GBP52.76 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this etching, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

The subject of this print fascinates me. My interest is not so much about the nude lady with her broken lute, nor am I particularly intrigued by the circumstances that have arisen leading to her predicament of being unclothed with a broken lute looking at a distant house with smoke coming out of its chimney. Instead, I am baffled about the title of the etching: “La Cigale” (the cricket/cicada/grasshopper). All I can think of, in terms of proposing a meaning, is the fable of La Fontaine, "La Cigale et la Fourmi” (the cricket and the ant). At this point I struggle with finding a meaningful connection, but, as an attempt, I guess the moral overtone is that this lady has been neglecting her household duties and has been ostracised by the town folk. I realise that I am hopelessly out of my depth in reading literary meanings into artworks and so any help is welcome as my concocted meaning is so dreadful.


I had a stroke of good fortune today in that I received information about this print from a major blog on prints—“The Linosaurus” (

“This is probably Chloe watching lovesick at Daphnis' cottage (last chapter of the play). Depicted the pastoral way (nude)

The broken lute to indicate she stopped singing (making music). Plato tells in his ‘Pheadrus’ of a mythe, cicades being the remnants of a first generation of humans that learned to sing and were so engaged they stopped eating and drinking totally devoted to art. (The ancients believed cicadas did not eat). Cicadas acted as go-betweens between humans and the gods.

The message or sub-title being: although (wo)man feeling low, the crickets keep tsjirping, also meaning the arts will always ‘survive’.
Something like this, along these lines......”

My sincere thanks to “The Linosaurus” blog

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