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Jean-Pierre-Xavier Bidauld

(1745 Carpentras – 1813 Lyon )

Première Vue de Lyon – Château de Pierre-Scise. Etching on wove paper. 40.3 x 53.7 cm. 1812. Le Blanc 2, Inven­taire du Fonds Français 7, Baudicour 7 I (of II).

Jean-Pierre-Xavier Bidauld’s impressive prospect of a now little-known part of the city of Lyon affords a panoramic view over the River Saône und the bustling activities on the boats and the shore. The picturesque rock massif in the background is dominated by the mighty Château de Pierre-Scise, a mediaeval fortress whose name derives from the massive, apparently split rock on which it was built. The château served as a prison from the 15th century onwards. Among its most prominent inmates were Ludovico Sforza, Jacques d’Armagnac and the Marquis de Sade. After the French Revolution the fortress was seized by the citizens of Lyon in 1791 and two years later it had been almost entirely demolished. The massive fortress walls as well as the striking rock on which the château stood were used as a quarry for the construction of new buildings in Lyon.

Bidauld’s etching has its origins in a drawing he made in 1789 just four years before the dismantling of the historical monument. The etching, which did not arise until 1812, thus serves as a important contemporary historical document. Jean-Pierre-Xavier Bidauld lived in Lyon from about 1764 and worked predominantly as a painter of still lifes, landscapes and miniatures, although he also made ink and sepia drawings. He learned the art of etching from none other than Jean Jacques Boissieu. Bidauld’s involvement in printmaking was evidently only a sideline, since he produced no more than a handful of etchings. The present very rare work is undoubtedly the most ambitious of his precise and very lifelike etchings and engravings.

A very fine, contrasting impression of the first state, before the addition of the title, with narrow margins. Only minimal traces of handling, otherwise in immaculate condition. From an unknown collection “AS in circle” (not in Lugt).

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