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Charles Nicolas Cochin the Younger

(1715–1790, Paris)

Portrait of the Comte de Caylus. Etching. 20.4 x 14.5 cm. 1752. Portalis & Béraldi 71.

The draughtsman, engraver and writer, Charles Nicolas Cochin the Younger, began his career by recording in drawings and prints the ceremonies that were held at the court of Louis XV. In some cases he made the drawings and etchings himself while in other instances his father, Charles Nicolas Cochin the Elder, etched the plates after designs by his son, who came to fame at an early age. Between 1749 and 1751 Cochin travelled around Italy at the behest of his patron, Madame Pompadour, and subsequently published treatises on ancient and Italian art. Extensive book illustrations and portrait commissions along with other art historical writings formed part of the oeuvre of this talented and very busy artist. In 1751 he became the first and only person for whom admission formalities to the Academy were waived; he was also appointed to several positions at court and given an aristocratic title.

This sensitive portrait of the Comte de Caylus, which is observed with great psychological subtlety, occupies an eminent position among the numerous portrait etchings made by Cochin. As the artist himself noted, it is a portrait not only of a prominent contemporary, but also of a kindred spirit. Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubières, Comte de Caylus was an antiquarian, art writer, collector and talented etcher. From 1731 he was also an amateur member of the Académie Royale. In his Mémoires inédits de Charles-Nicolas Cochin sur le Comte de Caylus, published posthumously in 1880, Cochin described his personal relationship with this versatile figure, who was a connoisseur of exquisite taste and yet at the same time a tyrannical patron. A very fine, nuanced trial proof, before all letters and before the hatched background. With even thread margins around the platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in immaculate condition. Rare.

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