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Dominique Vivant Denon

(1747 Chalon-sur-Saône – 1825 Paris)

Family Portrait. Lithograph. 31.8 x 39.3 cm. 1817. Inventaire du Fonds Français 12. The Illustrated Bartsch 522.

Denon left an extensive printed oeuvre of his own. He made his first lithograph in 1809 in the Munich studio of the brothers Aloys and Carl Friedrich Senefelder. Particularly after his resignation from office at the end of Napoleon’s rule Denon immersed himself in the art of lithography.

The present multi-figured and skilfully composed romantic portrait is one of Denon’s main lithographic works. A young woman sat just left of centre surrounded by her closest family ponders over a drawing she is making. The gaze of the young man to her right, presumably her husband, draws attention to her artistic activity, as does the easel in the background. The boy reading in the foreground and the young girl absorbed in her book just behind him are an indication of the cultured milieu in which the family lives. Its youngest member is an infant in the arms of a wet nurse in the far background. Denon has rendered the individual family members, their gestures and activities with agility and verve. A very fine, velvety impression with margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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