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Nicolas-Henri Jacob

(1782–1871, Paris)

Woman’s Head. Zincograph. 16.6 x 15.2 cm. Not in Inventaire du Fonds Français.

From 1805 to 1814 the Parisian history and portrait painter Nicolas Henri Jacob, who studied under Jacques-Louis David, worked in Milan as court draughtsman to Eugène Beauharnais, Napoleon’s stepson and Viceroy of Italy. Following his return, he worked for fifteen years as a drawing teacher at the École de vétérinaire in Maisons-Alfort and was later very busy as an illustrator of scientific publications. Quick to learn the new technique of lithography, Jacob was already considered an accomplished lithographer when he contributed a portrait of Aloys Senefelder and a number of illustrated plates for the French translation of L’art de la lithographie par Aloys Senefelder published in 1819. The majority of Jacob’s lithographs display a refined and scrupulously meticulous chalk technique. 
Contrasting with these works is the present sketch-like head of a woman with a dress and hairstyle in antique style. It is a zincograph, the platemark of which is clearly discernible on the left. While the woman’s face and hair are rendered with fine, narrow hatchings, her dress is sketched in broader lines, as if executed with a reed pen. The blotchy traces left by the plate at the top of her head and in the background indicate that this is probably one of Jacob’s very rare study sheets in which he experimented with surface printing. A very fine impression, with margins on the left, trimmed at the top, printed beyond the deckle edge on the right and below.

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