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Saturday 26 March 2022

Charles Joshua Chaplin’s etching, “L'embarquement pour l'île de Cythère”, 1849, after Antoine Watteau

Charles Joshua Chaplin (1825–1891) —not to be confused with the almost legendary silent film actor, Charlie Chaplin (Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE).

“L'embarquement pour l'île de Cythère”, 1849 (see Wold Cat:, after Antoine Watteau’s (aka Jean-Antoine Watteau) (1684–1721) painting, “Le Pèlerinage à l’isle de Cythère” (1717), in the Musée du Louvre (Paris), inv. 8525 (see  

Interestingly, J Claye’s (1864) critique of this print in the first volume of the “Gazette des Beaux-Arts” advises (somewhat erroneously) that before Chaplin’s etching, Watteau’s famous painting (in transl.) “had never been engraved” (p. 561). Fortunately the author goes on to qualify this assertion noting that Nicolas Henry Tardieu (1674–1749) had made an earlier engraving (1733) of Watteau’s painting, but dismissed it as “rather cold and rather dull.”  In terms of the reviewer’s assessment of Chaplin’s etching, the print was viewed very favourably at the time: (transl.) “M. Chaplin's etching is full of verve, very colourful, very exact.  A few little muzzles of crazy shepherdesses could perhaps use a little more accent, but it's the work of an hour of work with a point or a chisel [etching or engraving], and the whole is fair and luminous, this which is the highest praise that can be given to this difficult reproduction.  It's a hell of a fight to fight, with a point, against Watteau's brush, with a printing pad, against his sunny palette... Mr. Charles Chaplin has won his stripes” (ibid.).

Etching (with aquatint?) on buff coloured chine collé on heavy wove paper trimmed within the plate mark and backed with a support sheet.

Size: (sheet) 45.8 x 61.8 cm; (chine collé) 37 x 55.1cm.

Lettered in plate below the image borderline: (left) “WATTEAU PINXIT.”; (centre) “L'EMBARQUEMENT POUR L’ILE DE CYTHÈRE.”; (right) “CHAPLIN SCULPSIT”.

Béraldi 55 (Henri Béraldi 1885–1892, “Les graveurs du XIXe siècle: Guide de l'amateur d'estampes modernes”, vol. 4, Paris, Librairie L Conquet, p. 95, cat. no. 55).

Condition: a richly inked and well-printed impression trimmed with margins around the image borderline (but within the platemark) and laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The chine collé has been refixed with minor variation to its original position. Beyond a closed tear to the edge at lower right, sheet is in a very good condition.

I am selling this large and very beautiful—perhaps even glorious!—etching of Watteau’s famous masterwork, for AU$304 (currently US$228.49/EUR207.97/GBP173.24 at the time of posting this print) 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 important 19th century translation of Watteau’s famous painting into a masterwork of etched line, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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