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JACQUES DE FAVANNE
(1716–1770, Paris)

Morpheus. Etching, printed in reddish-brown ink. 13.2 x 15.4 cm. Unrecorded.


The engraver, Jacques de Favanne, employs a finely differentiated etching technique to portray the sleeping Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. His muscular body rests on hazy clouds. His imposing wings hang limply, giving the impression that their owner is in a deep sleep. The soft tonal effects achieved by the warm, reddish-brown printing ink envelop the figure of the slumbering god in a delicate sfumato. Jacques de Favanne first trained as an engraver but then turned to painting and was apprenticed to his father, the respected painter, Henri Antoine de Favanne (1668–1752, Paris). In 1753 he was active as “chef des peintres pour la marine” in Rochefort. Portalis describes nine works in Jacques’ hand, mostly reproductive engravings after Watteau, Lemoyne and Lancret.

The present sensitive etching is completely missing in the descriptive literature. The composition has its origins in a design by Favanne’s father. It may have been the young artist’s first attempt at etching. A superb, nuanced impression with margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.