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Charles Nicolas Cochin the Elder

(1688–1754, Paris)

L’Écureuse. Etching after Jean Siméon Chardin. 27.9 x 22.2 cm. 1740. Inventaire du Fonds Français 265.

Charles Nicolas Cochin, son of the painter Charles Cochin, began work as a painter himself before turning his attention to printmaking at the age of twenty-two. Admitted to the Académie Royale in the summer of 1731, Cochin made a name
for himself primarily as a reproductive engraver, producing technically flawless prints after Chardin, Watteau, Lancret and other prominent artists of his time. One of his first commissions was a contribution to the Histoire et Description de l’Hôtel des Invalides, a volume of reproductive engravings featuring illustrations of the ceiling paintings and sculptures in this prominent secular building. Cochin’s extensive printed oeuvre comprises a large number of allegorical and religious scenes.

Cochin etched several prints after genre scenes by his friend Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, an artist ten years his junior, whose development he fostered at an early stage by putting commissions his way. In this etching a kitchen maid stares ahead of her, completely lost in thought as she washes her dishes in a tub. Other utensils are strewn on the floor. The woman is completely absorbed in her work and unaware of the artist’s gaze, the intimacy of this snapshot being a typical feature of Chardin’s genre scenes. Cochin has transferred Chardin’s gently modelling painting style to the printmaking medium using a highly refined and detailed etching technique.

The work arose as a companion piece to the etching of Garçon cabaretier (IFF 264), with which it was exhibited at the 1740 Salon. Like the latter it has an inscription which points to the collection of the Comte de Vence. A superb, crisp impression
with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. Ex collection Arsène Bonafous-Murat (Lugt 3075).

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