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Edme Bouchardon

(1698 Chaumont – 1762 Paris)

after. The Five Senses. Series of five etchings with burin by Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubières, Comte de Caylus and Étienne Fessard. 40 x 29.6 cm. Inscription in pen and brown ink: “gravée a Leau forte par C et terminé au burin par EA fessard / Cloitre St Germain de Lauxerrois”. Inventaire du Fonds Français (Caylus) 56, IFF (Fessard) 1247.

Edme Bouchardon was not only an exceptionally talented sculptor, who worked with a wide range of materials, and a modeller in wax and clay, but also a draughtsman and medal maker. Moreover, he had an extraordinary capacity to devise ever new and original pictorial ideas. His artistic powers, which were nourished by his great erudition, and the inexhaustible tenacity with which he systematically prepared his artistic projects right down to the very last detail make him a luminary of his time. Bouchardon’s immense originality is readily apparent in the iconography of this series depicting the Five Senses, which are personified by graceful female allegories and ephebes resting on globes. The sensitively proportioned figures with their clas­sical features and lively elegance are the absolute embodiment of Bouchardon’s ideal of sublime beauty. Very striking in visual terms is the personification of Sight in the form of a young man carrying a falcon, his gaze fixed on a majestic sunrise. Bou­char­don’s design drawings have been transferred to the printmaking medium with great sensitivity by Comte de Caylus and Étienne Fessard and were published by the latter. These are trial proofs avant la lettre which are not recorded in the descriptive literature. Bouchardon’s original drawings have not survived. Five contre-épreuves in red chalk are recorded in the estate catalogue of the Mariette Collection of 1775.

Very fine, nuanced impressions with margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. The complete series is of greatest rarity.

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