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Jean Jacques Lagrenée

(1739–1821, Paris)

La Charité Romaine. Etching and aquatint. 12 x 17.7 cm. Baudicour 41 II.

This very rare etching by Jean Jacques Lagrenée probably relates to a painting on the same theme he made around 1782, which is now in the Augustinian Museum in Toulouse (oil on canvas, 62 x 73 cm, inv. no. 2004 1 238) and shows the scene in reverse. In contrast to the painted version the artist has included a cross-barred window in the background on the left, through which two helmeted Roman guards are attempting to peer. However, the young Pero has carefully positioned her body to shield their gaze from her father, whom she is nursing at her own bosom in order to save him from starvation in his cell. The lavis technique, which Lagrenée uses here to great artistic effect, was still new at this time; it gives the scene a superb chiaroscuro effect and a wonderful three-dimensional quality. A very fine, contrasting impression with wide margins around the inky platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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