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Philippe-Henri-Napoléon Yves

(1811 Neuss – 1889 Presles-et-Thierny, Aisnes)

Family Portrait. Etching on Chine appliqué. 23.7 x 19.9 cm. 1874.

Philippe-Henri-Napoléon Yves, a full-time notary who worked as an amateur printmaker on the side, was a close associate of Alfred Cadart, the founder of the Société des Acquafortistes in Paris in 1862, who was instrumental in promoting and disseminating the art of etching in France. Yves’ earliest etchings, which date to the year 1858, include a self-portrait he etched, an impression of which is now in the Baltimore Museum of Art, as well as several landscape etchings. In 1870 the artist exhi­bited two portrait etchings issued by Cadart at the Paris Salon. In 1879 he was still listed in the Annuaire des Beaux-Arts et des Arts Décoratifs. Interestingly enough, the yearbook does not give his private address but that of his publisher: “chez Madame Veuve Cadart, boulevard Haussmann 56” – a further indica­tion of the close ties he enjoyed with the renowned Cadart publishing house.

This striking, subtly observed group portrait illustrates the high quality of French etching, which had undergone a veritable renaissance in the 1850s and 1860s. The scene has been executed in a very refined, differentiated etching technique that produces velvety tonal transitions and a warm chiaroscuro. Taking centre stage in a study room is the pater familias who is sat at a desk holding a pen in his right hand. His charming little daughter is portrayed in lost profile. She nestles affectionately against her father and looks trustingly up at him. Her magnificent head of wavy hair is rendered with great graphic finesse. Sat in the background on the left is a pensive old man representing an antithesis to childlike youth, while on the right of the picture a human skeleton serves as a memento mori. Yves demonstrates great psychological sensitivity in conveying the interaction between the persons portrayed. The scene also functions as an allegory of the different stages in life. A superb, nuanced impression with full margins. Minor staining and slight traces of ageing in the outer white margin, otherwise in perfect condition. Rare. Other prints by Yves are in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

5.400 €

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