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Noêl Hallé

(1711–1781, Paris)

Fall of King Antiochus from his Chariot. Etching. 19 x 24.6 cm. 1739. Baudicour 1 II (of III); Inventaire du Fonds Français, Graveurs du XVIIIe Siècle, 1.

The painter Noël Hallé was one of the outstanding French artists during the period of Louis XV. Prolific in his work, he excelled in the depiction of religious, mythological and profane themes and, as a secondary activity, supplied designs for the tapestry manufactory of which he was appointed chief inspector in 1770. In 1736 Hallé won the coveted Prix de Rome and in late 1737 travelled to the city, living and working there until 1744. On his return to Paris he became an agrée of the Academy and participated for the first time in the Salon at the Louvre, where he exhibited regularly until 1779. Hallé produced a small corpus of rare prints, most of which date to the years he spent in Rome. His preferred medium of expression was etching, although this was clearly an artistic sideline, since the sheets he produced were not intended for sale and evidently only printed in small editions (Inventaire du Fonds Français, vol. XI, p. 242).

The present sheet depicting a rare episode from the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire in the Near East displays all the merits of Hallé’s sophisticated etching technique. The dramatic nature of the action notwithstanding, the scene is rendered with an elegant lightness. The gestures of the individual protagonists are somewhat theatrical, as if they were actors in an opera seria. The magnificent rearing horses in front of the chariot appear to move rhythmically as if performing in a dressage event. Hallé’s subtle, delicate and varied etching technique lends the print considerable refinement and visual appeal. A very fine, nuanced impression with the full margins, before the removal of the artist’s name and before Briceau’s address. Minor ageing, otherwise in immaculate, pristine condition.

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