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Robert Picou

(circa 1593 Tours – 1671 Paris)

Les Petits Lutteurs. Etching. 11.1 x 13.9 cm. Robert-Dumesnil 5, Le Blanc 7.

Robert Picou studied under Jacob Bunel and was active in the first half of the 17th century. Little is known of the life of this painter and etcher, who in the course of his career was awarded the title of “peintre du roi”. Between 1623 and 1626 he was evidently in Rome, where a note in the parish records of the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte indicates that he was employed as a painter for the king of Spain. He is also thought to have been friends with Pierre Brebiette. In his catalogue of works Robert-Dumesnil lists just seven prints by Picou, all of which he records as being of the utmost rarity (“Elles sont si rares, que M. de Marolles n’en avait pu réunir que trois”).

Most of the works known to be by Picou after his own inventions are images of children or cupids, whose plump bodies are an easily recognisable characteristic. Here two sturdily built boys are wrestling with each other, while a third, gesticulating wildly, appears to be trying to settle the dispute between them. The drawing style of this exquisite print with its carefully applied lines, narrow modelling hatching and fine stippling, together with the very original iconography, reveal Picou to be an inventive and inspired etcher.

A very fine and strong impression, printed with delicate tone; with even margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. From the collections of Alexandre-Pierre-François Robert-Dumesnil (Lugt 2200) and Prosper de Baudicour (without stamp).

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