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Gabriel de Saint-Aubin
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Gabriel de Saint-Aubin

Une Conference des Avocats (Dacier 48)

Details
Gabriel de Saint-Aubin
Une Conference des Avocats (Dacier 48)
etching with extensive additional work in pencil, 1776, watermark Letters, a working proof in an unrecorded state of this very rare print, between Dacier's first and second, final state, with 8-10 mm. margins, a thin spot in the left subject, partially breaking through, otherwise in good condition
P. 177 x 121 mm., S. 195 x 138 mm.
Provenance
A Private European Collection; then by descent to the present owners.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Charlie Scott

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Lot Essay

A disputation of lawyers, seated in rows in a cavernous, torch lit library, discuss the paper being read by a colleague at the head of the table. Above their heads an allegorical group of figures floats on a cloud. At the top is the goddess Justitia, holding scales and a sword, representative of the law. Below her the naked figure of Truth appeals to De l'esprit des lois, a political treatise published anonymously by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, in 1748, which, amongst other things, advocated a constitutional system of government which resulted in it being banned. Truth simultaneously overturns two large urns, out of which pour smoke bearing the figures of a cat and genie, which are identified by Dacier as symbolizing trouble and excessive freedom. On the opposite side of Truth is the figure of Prudence, bearing the caduceus, the staff entwined by two serpents surmounted by wings, a symbol of peace. Made at a time of political and social foment in French society which would culminate in the French Revolution a decade and a half later, Saint-Aubin’s etching appears to be a satire of the intellectual milieu of his day, and a caution against the enlightenment ideas which would lead to the overthrown of the Ancien Régime.

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