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Pierre Filloeul

(1696 Abbeville – after 1754 Paris)

Dame prenant son thé. Etching and engraving after Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin. 27.4 x 31.2 cm. Bocher 13, Inventaire du Fonds Français 127 II (of III).

A young woman, lost in thought, is sat gazing at her fine porcelain teacup. Steam rises from both the cup and the teapot, forming cloudy wisps that blur the pensive protagonist’s field of vision – a vanitas motif similar to the young man’s fragile house of cards in Le Chateau du cartes, Chardin’s companion piece to this painting. Filloeul re-engraved both paintings in an identical format, supplementing them with captions whose interpretations operate at a level that extends beyond the bourgeois morality inherent in the paintings. The motif of the present sheet, for example, is placed in the context of a gallant scene. Such interpretative signatures – also known as rimes pauvrettes – were common, the aim being to interest a wider audience in the prints. While this practice was criticised by a connoisseur like Mariette, it also testifies to the communicative potential of printmaking as compared to painting. On the other hand, the highly refined reproduction of the image – the print is quite rare – matches the clarity of Chardin’s painting with its calm, almost meditative atmosphere. The work was exhibited at the Salon of 1739. Pierre Filloeul, was first taught by his father, Gilbert Filloeul, and then continued his training in the studio of Jacques-Philippe Lebas. His printed oeuvre comprises some 150 sheets, including a large number of works after Jean-Baptiste Pater, Christophe Huet and Antoine Watteau as well as four prints after compositions by Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin. A very fine, clear impression with full margins around the very distinct platemark, before the change of address. Minor ageing, otherwise in immaculate, pristine condition.

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