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Charles Jacque

(1813–1894, Paris)

Fumeur à la chandelle. Etching. 9.7 x 6.4 cm. 1842. Guiffrey 6, Inventaire du Fonds Français 12, Paul Prouté 12 II (of VII).

Charles-Emile Jacque, who came from a Parisian family of artists, was one of the best known painters and printmakers of the Barbizon School. Between 1830 and 1870 this school, which earned a reputation for the nature-inspired works of art it generated, exerted a determining influence on Impressionism and European landscape painting in general. Following a brief period as an apprentice and autodidactic studies, Jacque first worked as a book illustrator and caricaturist, amongst others for the Magasin Pittoresque as well as Charivari and Caricature. He subsequently distinguished himself as an etcher, although he also experimented with other printmaking techniques such as lithography, woodcuts and zincography. As early as the 1830s he was influenced by the idyllic impressions of nature he gained during his frequent visits to the rural areas of the Bresse Region. Consequently farmsteads, the interiors of stables and depictions of animals soon numbered among his favourite motifs. Jacque made his debut at the Paris Salon of 1845 with his painting Truffìere showing a herd of pigs in a rocky landscape. The arrival of Jacque and his friend, Jean-François Millet, in the little village of Barbizon in the forest of Fontainebleau in 1849 was an important stimulus for the development of the colony of artists founded there by Théodore Rousseau. Jacque immersed himself here in landscape painting and etchings, which made the paysage intime into a new genre of art.

Another aspect of Jacque’s art is illustrated here by a little etching showing a man smoking in an indoor space lit solely by a candle. The intricate etching style and intense chiaroscuro are unmistakeably influenced by the style of the early Rembrandt. The young Jacque had discovered the works of Rembrandt and Adriaen Ostade during his autodidactic studies in the Louvre and was so impressed by their wealth of shapes and choice of material that they soon became the most important sources of inspiration for his paintings and prints. This brilliantly executed print with its finely coordinated tone is on offer here in the early second state before the addition of the artist’s name in the lower margin. A very fine, harmonious impression with thread margins around the inky platemark. Minor ageing and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent, pristine condition. Rare.

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