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Frédéric Villot

(1809 Liège – 1875 Paris)

A Man Singing with a Zither. Etching on Chine collé. 28.3 x 21.1 cm. 1847. Nagler 6, Le Blanc 4.

Frédéric Villot was taught by Eugène Delacroix and soon became his close confidant. As a painter he frequently followed the example of his master, producing for the most part works with mythological or historical motifs. In addition he tried his hand at printmaking and made a number of superb etchings as well as a few woodcuts. As a connoisseur and capable artist he soon gained a considerable reputation in Paris and in 1848 was selected to succeed François Marius Granet as curator of painting at the Louvre. According to the engraved caption in the bottom left-hand corner, the present rare etching from 1847 reproduces a painting by the Spanish Baroque painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. It depicts an old musician singing a song to the accompaniment of his zither who is so carried away that he twists his face into a grimace. The almost caricaturelike picture has been executed in a technically refined and varied etching technique and is remarkable above all for its effective chiaroscuro. A very fine, crisp and contrasting impression with even margins. Minor soiling and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition. From the collection of Fredrick Augustus II of Saxony (Lugt 971) and with the die stamp of Frédéric Villot (similarly Lugt 996).

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