|Gamelin inc. et fec. 1778 Tolose [A Toulouse, De l'Imprimerie de J.F. Desclassan, Maitre-ez-Arts, pres le Place Royale. M.DCC.LXXIX. Avec Permission]
|Image 215 x 270 mm, Plate 242 x 285 mm, Sheet 545 x 410 mm
A very artistically considered anatomical print of a reclining skeleton, prepared by Gamelin for his masterwork, the "Nouveau Recueil D'Osteologie et de Myologie, Dessine d'Apres Nature." The skeleton rests upon a monumental stone plinth, likely its own funerary monument. Its legs are outstretched, with its back against a step draped with a heavy piece of fabric. It rests a staff on its right clavicle, its right arm draped casually over it, while its left arm is held out in a simple gesture. Its skull is bowed, the empty sockets making a blind sight-line down the staff.
Gamelin's "Nouveau Recueil D'Osteologie et de Myologie, Dessine d'Apres Nature" is an usual book. Straddling the line between scientific treatise and artist's patternbook, it is ostensibly a collection of illustrations of the skeletal and muscular systems. Interspersed between Gamelin's more traditional anatomical plates are scenes and vignettes playing with memento mori and vanitas themes. Some are serious in tone, showing the corpses of fallen men and animals on battle fields, the dissected bodies of condemned criminals, or explorations of crucifixion, while others are humorous or just plain bizarre, with cavorting skeletons harrassing society ladies in their finery, dancing jigs in Gothic operettas, or carrying off the living to join in various danses macabres.
Jacques Gamelin (1738-1803) was a French painter and engraver, active in Toulouse and Carcassone. He is best known for his paintings of battle scenes, as well as a collection of engravings of anatomical subjects published in the Nouveau Recueil D'Osteologie et de Myologie, Dessine d'Apres Nature.
Condition: Repaired cuts and tears to right hand margin, into centre of plate. Printer's crease to bottom of plate. Large waterstain along top margin of sheet, not affecting plate. Minor foxing to plate. Blank on verso. Framed in a period style frame.