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Sébastien Barras

(1653–1703, Aix-en-Provence)

Shipwreck; Seascape with a Battle. Two mezzotints after Renaud Montagne. Each measuring approx. 20.5 x 25.0 cm. Inventaire du Fonds Français, 18ième siècle; vol. II, 41, 42; Le Blanc 36, 37.

The painter and engraver, Sébastien Barras, received his initial artistic training in Aix from Boyer d’Aguilles, a nobleman and collector well versed in matters of art. As Barras’ mentor he encouraged the artist to go to Rome to continue his training there. After returning to Aix, Barras initially worked as a painter, although his real talent was as an engraver. He executed most of his works using the mezzotint technique that had been introduced just a few decades earlier and was still relatively unknown in France. While the artist produced several portraits based on his own drawings, the majority of his mezzotints are reproductions of paintings from Boyer’s collection. They were published posthumously in 1709 in the Receuil des plus beaux Tableaux du cabinet de M. Boyer, seigneur d’Aguilles. Our two prints are the only engravings from the series that were not reworked by the publisher, J. Coelemans, when it was published. They show the artist’s impressive mastery of the medium. As an engraver Barras achieves fine tonal gradations, while the striking chiaroscuro effects make his works highly evocative. Superb, contrasting impressions with wide margins, with the artists’ names, but before the numbers. In immaculate condition. Rare.

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