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Henri Mauperché

(c. 1602–1686, Paris)

The Punishment of Marsyas. Etching. 19.3 x 26.7 cm. Robert-Dumesnil 27 I (of II). Watermark: Post horn.

Henri Mauperché was much in demand as a landscape painter, being the recipient, in particular, of commissions from the French court and the Parisian aristocracy. In addition he worked as a printmaker, producing some fifty etchings between 1639 and 1656. These were mostly topographical views and religious scenes set in ideal landscapes. Mauperché was taught by Louis de Boullogne, with whom he travelled to Rome in 1634. His stay in Italy was to have a formative influence on his paintings and printmaking. During his time in Rome Mauperché associated with other northern European artists, who had come to Italy to study the art of antiquity and drew inspiration from the Italian countryside. Among his closer acquaintances were such prominent artistic figures as Claude Lorrain, Sébastien Bourdon and Herman van Swanevelt, who attached great importance to printmaking.

The present mythological scene vividly illustrates Mauperché’s merits as an etcher. The scene, portrayed against a lush woodland backdrop sketched with effortless mastery, appears almost incidental in this wonderfully atmospheric setting. Mauperché’s linework is light, imaginative and intended to produce a painterly effect. This is apparent in the vigorous chiaroscuro that arises from the contrast between the parts etched in jet black and the places that are white and untreated.

A superb, contrasting early impression with invigorating plate tone and margins around the distinct platemark. Before the later reworking and change in the subject matter. Slightly foxed, minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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