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Pierre Brebiette

(c. 1598 Mantes – 1642 Paris)

Le cabaret d’enfants (Two Girls in a Tavern). Etching. 8.2 x 9.2 cm. Inventaire du Fonds Français 238; exhibition catalogue Pierre Brebiette, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans, 2001/02, p. 48, No. 3.

This humorous and sympathetically observed portrayal is one of a group of five small-format etchings with genre themes that Brebiette created about 1620. The scene is, in a sense, a parody of an iconographic topos that in Brebiette’s time was very popular with the Northern Caravaggists. This time, however, it is not drunken adults, but little girls who are passing the time frivolously in a tavern by candlelight. The older one, seated in front of the other and wearing male dress and a jaunty hat, is filling her wineglass with an expansive gesture, while the other girl is trying to make music using kitchen utensils as instruments. Clearly they are following the bad example set by their elders. The whole is executed in a subtle, versatile etching technique which shows the goings-on in a warm, mild light.

A superb, harmonious impression with even margins around the platemark. Minor ageing, verso slightly foxed, otherwise in very good condition.

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