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Pastoral Scene with Shepherd Couple. Etching. 27.3 x 37.5 cm. Hippert & Linnig I, 186, 34.
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Following the early death of his father, Jean-Louis Demarne left his native Brussels as a child and went to Paris, where his mother apprenticed him to a wallpaper painter. Dissatisfied with his new life, Jean-Louis fled from Paris with a friend to continue his training on his own. After making his way through Holland and Flanders, Demarne ended up in the northern French port town of Le Havre, from where he planned to sail to west India. This venture was thwarted by an acute lack of funds, however. Back in Paris, Jean-Louis was taken on as a pupil by the Academy painter Gabriel Briard, with whom he remained for eight years. Originally trained as a historical painter, he contended for the Prix de Rome in 1772, but was beaten by David. He subsequently turned his hand successfully to landscape painting, a genre in which he was greatly influenced by 17th century Dutch masters such as Dujardin, Berchem, Potter and Ruijsdael. Nagler comments as follows: “(Demarne) created landscapes with animal staffage, seascapes and battle scenes, moonlight and winter scenes which can hold their own against those of the best masters; his outstanding qualities are his esprit, gracefulness, diversity and living truth.”
Demarne also created a modest printed oeuvre of etched landscapes replete with animals and figurative staffage that clearly illustrate the qualities Nagler referred to above. Our Pastoral Scene has been executed using a lively and sophisticated technique that was strongly influenced by Dutch masters like Paulus Potter and Karel Dujardin. Moreover, there is no overlooking the stylistic parallels with the printed work of de Boissieu. The terrain, vegetation, people and animals are treated with a lightness of touch and great accuracy. Dense cross-hatching alternates with transparent areas to produce a delightful, pulsating light effect. A pretty young shepherdess is sat beneath an oak tree feeding a goat. Her classical profile and hairstyle make her look a little out of place in this flat, bucolic, northern landscape.
A superb, richly varied and vibrant impression with thread margins around the inky platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in impeccable condition.