[Skeletons surprising patrons of a tavern]

Method Etching
Artist Jacques Gamelin
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 215 mm, Plate 185 x 230 mm
Notes A memento mori vignette showing a pair of skeletons breaking up a raucous evening in a tavern, prepared by Lavallee for Gamelin's masterwork, the "Nouveau Recueil D'Osteologie et de Myologie, Dessine d'Apres Nature." At centre, a pair of grinning skeletons flamboyantly throw aside a heavy curtain, surprising a motley crew of drunkards, gamblers, and wastrels who lurk in the darkened room of a tavern. In the foreground, a game of cards is underway. Some of the members of the game recoil in horror, holding up their hands in supplication or defence, though a pair of men with their backs to the viewer seem so enthralled in their betting that they have failed to notice the arrival of their skeletal foes. In the right hand corner of the scene, a group of drunkards have similarly mixed reactions. Some wail and cover their heads in fear, while others continue draining their flasks, either uncaring of or oblivious to their impending doom.

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 and tears to bottom margin, extending into image. Horizontal printers crease to centre of sheet, not affecting image or plate. Letterpress text in French and Latin above. Time toning to edges of sheet. Blank on verso.
Framing mounted
Price £100.00
Stock ID 50240

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