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Pierre Nolasque Bergeret

(1782 Bordeaux – 1863 Paris)

Self-portrait of the Artist. Etching on Chine appliqué. 28.3 x 19.2 cm. 1838. Inventaire du Fonds Français 16 III (of V).

In this almost Renaissance-like self-portrait Pierre Nolasque Bergeret musters the viewer with a confident look and the ghost of a smile on his face. His upper body turned to the right, the fur-coated artist rests his arm on a balustrade, over which a precious tapestry has been draped, while a broad landscape opens up in the background. The caption beneath the portrait, which lists a series of particularly noteworthy works by Bergeret, emphasises the representative aspirations of this then renowned but now largely forgotten artist. The etching, which has been executed with the utmost accuracy and great technical skill, has its origins in a portrait Bergeret painted of himself in 1814, of which we would be unaware were it not for the etching. However, the etching itself was probably based on a drawing after a painting of 1829 by Claire Bergeret; Pierre did not make it until 1838 almost twenty-five years after the original version.

Pierre Nolasque Bergeret received his training together with François Marius Granet and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in the studio of Jacques-Louis David and from François-André Vincent. He soon enjoyed the protection of Baron Dominique Vivant Denon, who gave him the honourable commission of reproducing a series of masterpieces from the Louvre using the new medium of lithography. Bergeret, who was otherwise known mainly for his troubadour-style history paintings, thus became a pioneer of lithography in France. A very fine, contrasting impression with margins, before the address of Chardon and the two later editions of 1863. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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