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Prince Charles de Ligne

(1759 Brussels – 1792 La Croix–aux–Bois/Ardennes)

Landscape with a Barn and Peasants Harvesting Hay. Etching. 29.1 x 36.6 cm. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten, vol. II, from 336.

Charles de Ligne was the eldest son of a field marshal and diplomat, Charles-Joseph de Ligne, seventh prince of an old noble family from the southern Netherlands. Like his father, Charles successfully pursued a career as an officer, making his mark inter alia during the war between Russia and Turkey from 1788 to 1791. However, his real passion was for art, to which he devoted himself as both a collector and dilettante artist. To this end he underwent training, amongst others, at the hands of the Belgian painter and engraver, Antoine Cardon, and the engraver and etcher, Adam von Bartsch, curator of the Imperial Court Library in Vienna. Whereas de Ligne’s interest as a draughtsman was mainly in reproducing works by old Italian masters, as an etcher he produced works after his own invention as well as prints after Johann Christian Brand. This led to the production of several attractive series of etchings, which are distinguished by their generous linework and often feature portraits or picturesque landscapes. A factor common to all his prints nowadays is their extreme rarity, an aspect emphasised among others by Xavier Duquenne.

The present print showing peasants harvesting hay is probably an early trial proof of a print that is not included in Xavier Duquenne’s list of de Ligne’s works. The sky and parts of the terrain in the foreground have not been finished; the frequently included dedication in the lower text margin is also missing. Some forty etchings are now attributed to the oeuvre of this princely dilettante. A very fine, contrasting impression with thread margins. Slightly aged, otherwise in excellent condition. On the mounting of the collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein. Literature: Xavier Duquenne, “Le Prince Charles de Ligne Graveur (1759– 1792)” in: In Monte Artium 2, 2009, pp.105–130.

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