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Wednesday 11 December 2019

Gilles Antoine Demarteau's dot-roulette etching, “Téte d’Alexandre", 1781

Gilles Antoine Demarteau (1750–1802)—son of Antoine Gilles Demarteau (1722–1776).
Note that prints in Leopold de Leymarie’s (1896) catalogue raisonné for Antione Gilles Demarteau (the elder) with catalogue numbers above no. 561 (such as this print) are by Gilles Antoine Demarteau (the younger).
“Téte d’Alexandre” (Head of Alexander), 1781, after the design by Jean-Jacques Bachelier (1724–1806).
Mindful that the inscribed name of the draftsman of this composition is Jean-Jacques Bachelier, I propose that this engraving was designed as an instructional model for study (copying) by students attending the first free drawing school in Paris founded in 1766 by Bachelier, the École Royale Gratiuite de Dessin. I understand that prints such as this were locked in a glass frame set in the front of each desk for students to copy in their six-year drawing course. Interestingly, black and white engravings were described as “au chiffon” and red coloured ones (like this) were valued as more expensive “à la main.” Students could purchase the prints for home study but this was only optional. There were 632 plates focused on human figures, 843 plates dealing with architecture, 340 on animals, 348 on flowers and 486 on ornaments. Studies in this school were restricted (largely but not completely) to copying the engravings, whereas studies from life and plaster casts were addressed at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpturewhich was not free. For more information about the history, curriculum and impact of this school, see the marvellous essay by Ulrich Leben & Susan Gillespie 1993, “New Light on the École Royale Gratuite de Dessin: The Years 1766–1815”, in “Studies in the Decorative Arts”, vol. 1, No. 1 (FALL 1993), University of Chicago Press, pp. 99–118.
Dot-roulette (stipple) etching (manière de crayon) printed in sanguine coloured ink on heavy laid paper backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 51.2 x 41 cm; (plate) 49.7 x 39.6 cm.
Lettered on plate below the image: (left) “Bachelier del. a 16 ans”; (left of centre) A Paris chez Demarteau Graveur, Cloître St. Benoit.”; (right of centre) “No. 609.”; (right) Demarteau sculp. 1781”.
De Leymairie 1896 906 (Leopold de Leymarie 1896, “L'oeuvre de Gilles DeMarteau l'aine graveur du Roi”, Paris, Georges Rapilly, p. 140. cat. no. 906: see
Condition: huge well-printed impression with small margins laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. There are spots, chips, tears, signs of handling and a replenished loss to the left edge.
I am selling this magnificent example of a large classical head (Alexander the Great) originally designed for 18th century art students to study, for a total cost of AU$384 (currently US$264.35/EUR237.09/GBP200.02 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this stunning and large classical study executed with a dot roulette to mimic the texture of a crayon drawing, 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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