|Published||Lavalee inc. Gamelin inv. [A Toulouse, De l'Imprimerie de J.F. Desclassan, Maitre-ez-Arts, pres le Place Royale. M.DCC.LXXIX. Avec Permission]|
|Dimensions||Image 175 x 220 mm, Plate 190 x 235 mm|
A memento mori vignette depicting a party of fashionable young men and women being accosted by a group of skeletons, prepared by Lavallee for Gamelin's masterwork, the "Nouveau Recueil D'Osteologie et de Myologie, Dessine d'Apres Nature." The young aristocratic figures are dressed in the finest and latest fashions, reclining on couches in a high ceilinged pillared portico overlooking a collection of funerary monuments. Elaborate hairstyles and expensive clothes decorate both male and female alike. To the right of the scene, from amongst the tombs, a group of capricious skeletons issued forth, taking the party by surprise. The lead skeleton reaches out a bony hand towards the hair of the nearest young woman, who recoils in horror. In the background, one of the dandies draws his sword for a last ditch attempt to save himself and his fellows, though most of the rest of the group seem set to flee. Above two of the obelisks, funerary urns sizzle and burn, plumes of smoke rising up into the sky.
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.
Jacques Lavallee (fl.1770-1830) was a French engraver, active in Toulouse.
Condition: Repaired cuts to bottom margin, extending into image. Letterpress text in French and Latin above. Time toning to edges of sheet. Insect holes to bottom margin, not affecting image. Blank on verso.