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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

William Haussoullier’s engraving, “Augustus, Octavia and Livia”, 1869, after Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

William Haussoullier (aka Guillaume Haussoullier) (1818–1891)

Augustus, Octavia and Livia” (aka “Auguste, Octavie et Livie”), 1869, from the series of engravings, “La Semaine” after drawings executed in Rome in 1813 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and given to Ingres’ friend, art collector and sculptor/medallist to Louis XVIII, Edouard Gatteaux (1788–1881) (see Henri Beraldi 1889, “Graveurs du Xixe Siècle: Guérin–Lacoste”, vol. 8, Paris, Librairie L Conquet, p. 65).

This impression is before the print was later published as plate 14 (“Planche XIV”) of the third series lettered on plate with the title and the collection: “Auguste Octavie et Livie/ musée de Bruxelles”.  It was printed by Charles Chardon (1832–1896) and published by the Société Française de Gravure (aka Société des Graveurs au Burin) (fl.1868–)—a society that the BM advises was founded by Henriquel-Dupont at the Gazette des Beaux-Arts to publish plates for distribution to its members (see https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG183625).

The portrayed subject relates to a detail of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “recently discovered drawing” by Ingres (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/389561) related by its composition to his painting, “Virgil reading the Aeneid before Augustus”, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels. Be mindful, however, as the MET advises in the marvellous accompanying discussion about Ingres’ drawing, that “Ingres would return to this subject throughout his career, reworking the composition in over one hundred drawings and three paintings.” (op. cit.)

Regarding the engraver and the historical context of this ultra-fine print, Haussoullier was a former pupil of Paul Delaroche (1797–1856) who made the now famous comment—possibly more of a myth than factual—on the demise of painting with the perceived advance of photography: “From today painting is dead.” Taking his master’s view to heart that a career in painting may be short lived, Haussoullier redirected his career to the art of engraving and this print is a demonstration piece of his newly acquired skill as an engraver. I understand that initially the plan was for Haussoulier to use a photograph of Ingres’ painting as a reference model for the engraving. This plan, however, seems to have been abandoned as photography at the time was not be sufficiently nuanced with subtleties and so (according to Beraldi’s catalogue) Haussoullier employed a drawing by Ingres instead as the reference model. Clearly, the pending threat towards the end of the 19th century posed by photography over engraving as the preferred medium for the reproduction of artworks had not fully crystallised for Haussoullier.

Etching and engraving on cream chine collé (China paper) on heavy wove paper with wide margins.

Size: (sheet) 51.7 x 52.5 cm; (plate) 29 x 30 cm; (chine collé) 27.1 x 27.7 cm; (image borderline) 21.4 x 23 cm.

Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “INGRES PINXT.”; (centre) “SOCIÉTÉ FRANçAISE DE GRAVURE/ 53/ Imp. Ch. Chardon”; (right) “HAUSSOULLIER SCULPT.”

Musées d'Art et d'Histoire de La Rochelle offer the following description of this print:

(Transl.) “On the right, a naked man [Augustus], a drape over the shoulder is seated in profile facing left. He has his right hand raised. On her knees lies a fainting young girl [Octavia] whose head is supported by a Roman matron [Livia] seated in the background.

Emperor Augustus and his sister Octavia face Virgil who is not presented in this engraving. The latter faints when the poet pronounces the words of "Tu Marcellus eris", recalling his murdered dead son. Finally, seated next to them, here is Livie, wife of Augustus and probable sponsor of the murder” (https://www.alienor.org/collections-des-musees/fiche-objet-151862-auguste-octavie-et-livie).

See also the description of this print by the Musée du Louvre: https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl020529512.

Condition: a strong and well-printed (near faultless) impression with generously wide margins in near pristine (museum quality) condition with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions or stains.

I am selling this astoundingly fine engraving in almost mint condition for the total cost of AU$268 (currently US$206.86/EUR172.10/GBP149.27 at the time of this listing) including Express Mail (EMS) 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 outstanding academic masterwork of late 19th century engraving executed at the time when photography was seen as a threat to the traditional art mediums of painting and engraving, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold 











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