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Le vieux chêne au bois de Boulogne. Etching on Chine appliqué. 45.3 x 32 cm. Signed. 1856. Béraldi 102, Inventaire du Fonds Français 131.
Having received lessons in painting from Jean-Baptiste and Jules Cogniet and following an in-depth study of drawing and lithography Eugène Bléry attended an exhibition of works by Jean-Jacques Boissieu in 1836 which prompted him to engage in the technique of etching. He soon proved to be exceptionally talented as an etcher. Focusing primarily on nature and landscape motifs, he meticulously rendered a wide variety of large and small plants, their elaborate organic structures and intricate foliage. He derived his inspiration directly from nature, above all in the picturesque forests of Les Vaux-de-Cernay and his native Fontainebleau as well as in Savoy, the Auvergne and Switzerland.
The towering ancient oak tree in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris makes the two wanderers engaged in idle conversation at its foot seem utterly insignificant; this moment in a carefree existence contrasts with the notion of transitoriness symbolised by some of the thin branches on the tree. Neither Béraldi nor the IFF record any states but it is clear from inscriptions in the artist’s hand on other sheets that there were two of them. The impression on offer here is of the second state in which the fine hatching in the sky has been added to the plate. There has been some reworking with the roulette here as well as in the dark trees in the middle ground and the hills on the horizon. This effects soft tones alongside the bright contrasts of the sunlit trees. A superb, rich impression with wide margins around the distinct platemark. Slight foxing in the margins, occasional minor abrasions, two small sealed tears in the bottom and left-hand margin, otherwise in excellent condition.