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Manuel Salvador Carmona

(1734 Nava del Rey – 1820 Madrid)

Pedro de Salvador Carmona, y Maria Garcia su Muger (The Artist’s Parents). Etching. 22 x 28.5 cm. 1780. Heller-Andresen 14.

The engraver Manuel Salvador Carmona was first trained by his uncle, the sculptor Luis Salvador Carmona. In 1752, the artist went to study in Paris, where he was taught the various printmaking techniques by Nicolas Gabriel Dupuis and stayed until 1763. Carmona was clearly talented, since he was appointed a member of the Académie royale and Graveur du Roi in 1761. Having returned to Madrid, he became an honorary member of the Academia de S. Fernando. A further indication of his social standing is the fact that Salvador Carmona’s second marriage was to a daughter of the court painter Anton Raphael Mengs. Carmona ranks as one of the foremost Spanish engravers of the 18th century. 

The present trompe-l'œil etching was described by Heller-Andresen as very rare. It shows an intimate portrait of the artist’s parents, which is remarkable for its modest, yet psychologically subtle rendering. The old couple are presented in half-length and convey an impression of matrimonial harmony and loyalty. Their attire is neat without being over-splendid and would indicate a solid, middle-class background. The artist has portrayed the faces of his parents with loving attention; individual details, such as wrinkles, folds and hair growth, are emphasised with the help of a meticulous etching technique. The couple thus radiate a considerable presence. The father looks at the beholder with a clear, self-confident gaze, while the mother humbly bows her head, thus documenting her position as a servant in the marital hierarchy. The artist has clearly taken great pleasure in masking this double portrait as a trompe-l'œil. The engraving is fixed to a base with two nails and the paper is uneven in the corners. Fine cross-hatching emphasises the texture of the fragile material. 

An excellent impression with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition. On the mount of the Liechtenstein Princely Collections.

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