Wednesday, 1 August 2018
Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine’s etching (with aquatint and drypoint), “Susanna and the Elders”, 1776
Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gourdaine (aka Jean Pierre Norblin de la Gordaine) (1745–1830)
“Susanna and the Elders”, 1776
Etching, aquatint and drypoint on cream wove (Japan) paper with narrow margins
Size: (sheet) 17.8 x 23.3 cm; (plate) 17 x 22.5 cm
Signed and dated on plate (on the front face of the low wall at left)
State vi/vi? This attribution of the state is based on the details of this print correlating with the impression held by the BM (1853,0312.325). Note that the NGA proposes that there are five states in total and the BM advises there are six states.
Hillemacher 1848, no. 3 (Frédéric Hillemacher 1848, “Catalogue des estampes qui composent l'oeuvre de Jean-Pierre Norblin”, Paris)
The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Susanna and the elders, with the young woman sitting on a wall and surrounded by the old men; two slippers at her feet; sixth state, with man on the right wearing turban and looking away.”
See also the description of this print at the Philadelphia Museum of Art () and at the National Gallery of Art ( ).
Condition: richly inked, faultless impression trimmed with narrow margins around the plate mark. The sheet is in pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains, foxing or signs of use), backed with a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.
I am selling this magnificently glowing etching by one of the most important artists of the Enlightenment in Poland for AU$326 (currently US$241.75/EUR206.70/GBP184.02 at the time of posting this print) 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 masterwork from the 1700s following in the tradition of Rembrandt, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold
This is one of Norblin’s masterworks and I suspect that few viewers would disagree with FL Leipnik (1924) in his proposal that Norblin is “an etcher of rare qualities” (p. 61).
Regarding these “rare qualities” that I see in this beautiful etching, note how Norblin adds the smallest touches of dark line to the silhouette edge of Susanna’s legs. These dark accents are laid where the skin comes close to the bone and they help to “tighten” the contours of her legs. By contrast the more fleshy sections of Susanna’s legs are left with only a light outline so that a viewer’s eye can sensually slip around the modelling of these more rounded contours.
There is also the artist’s dramatic use of light and shade that helps to create an aura of mystery where subject matter can only be partly seen. Just as important, note also the subtle gradations from cross-hatching to single lines, from single lines to dots, and from dots to the untouched paper, to pictorially carve and model the portrayed figures in space.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the story of Sussana and the Elders, the account offered by Wikipedia is worth reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanna_and_the_Elders_(Tintoretto)