Entitled Les Pecheurs de L’Adriatique (“The Fishermen of the Adriatic”), this 19th-century engraving is after the original 1834/1835 painting by Léopold Robert. The print is encased in glass and surrounded by a wonderfully hand-carved giltwood frame with shallowly carved floral margents in the center of each side and low-relief flowering arrangements at the corners. The gold color of the frame accentuates the sharpness of the gray and white palette of the engraving.
It is a somber scene, depicting fishermen getting ready to begin their voyage out to sea (the Adriatic). Family members, including a few children, have gathered to see the men off and most of the men and women have melancholy expressions, particularly an elderly woman sitting on a stone embankment. Deep sea fishing in the 1800s was a dangerous endeavor, so this was not a joyous occasion for either the fishermen or their loved ones. In the background, a few vessels are already on the water, with a second ship still docked behind our cluster of subjects.
The story of Louis Léopold Robert is quite interesting. Born in 1794 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Robert left for Paris at the age of 16 to study with his mentor, Jean Girardet. At the time, Neuchâtel (in western Switzerland) was under French control. In 1815, Robert was in the running for the grand prix for engraving, but Neuchâtel opted to enter the newly formed Swiss Confederation, invalidating his entry as a foreign citizen. After being exiled, Robert began work on a four-part opus, with each painting representing a different season and the four predominant races of Italy. Les Pecheurs (the final scene in the grouping) was the last work that Robert completed before his death.
Engraved by Zachee Prevost, a French artisan active in the early- to mid-19th century, and published by Goupil and Vibert, our version is from the 1850s. Goupil and Vibert (a French art dealership that has since progressed to an auction house) formed in 1850, while Prevost died in 1861. Interestingly, in 1881, the Boulevard Montmartre, 15, location of Goupil and Vibert was run by Theo Van Gogh, brother and financer to Vincent Van Gogh.
CONDITION: Good antique condition, with minor buildup to paper and glass. Professional restoration work to the frame, which still has light rubs. Rigged for hanging.