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Félix Bracquemond

(1833 Paris – 1914 Sèvres)

Portrait of Charles Baudelaire, His Head Resting on His Left Hand. Etching on ivory-coloured laid paper. 12.7 x 11.8 cm. Signed in pen and black ink. (1869). Béraldi 11 (I of IV).

This sensitively rendered portrait shows the famous French writer and lyricist, Charles Baudelaire, at the age of twenty-three shortly before the start of his literary career. The etching reproduces a portrait painted in 1844 by Emile Deroy (1820–1846), a French artist and one of Baudelaire’s confidants. This was the year in which Baudelaire’s family had him placed under financial guardianship because of his dissolute lifestyle, which greatly offended the poet and probably led to a suicide attempt the following year. Bracquemond’s intimate, psychologically haunting portrait etching brilliantly reproduces the atmosphere of the painted portrait. The young Baudelaire gazes into the distance with a slightly dreamy look and a certain intellectual disdain. The casual pose emphasises his pronounced self-confidence.

The author of the etching, the painter Félix Bracquemond had taught himself the art of etching as early as 1849 and quickly attained the same level of mastery as his friend and fellow artist, Charles Meryon. Discovered by Théophile Gautier at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1855, Bracquemond gradually became known in Parisian literary and artistic circles. He associated with Théodore de Banville, Charles Baudelaire, the brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, and Nadar. Bracquemond was the co-founder in 1862 of the Société des Aquafortistes. From the 1860s he was friends with Édouard Manet, taught him how to etch and held a joint exhibition with him in 1863 in the Salon des Refusés. Around 1879/80, after a longish intermezzo, Bracquemond resumed his interest in the various printmaking techniques and was on friendly terms with Edgar Degas. Although Bracquemond’s œuvre is very diverse and he also distinguished himself as a painter, his significance derives prin-cipally from his considerable printmaking output.

A superb, nuanced early impression, the background still white in parts. Before the reworking with the drypoint and before Salmon’s address. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. The etching is of great rarity in this state. We could not find any impressions in public collections. From the collection of Alfred Beurdeley (Lugt 421).

7.500 €

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