This incredibly detailed set of antique engravings date to circa 1700. The three framed scenes with glass covers depict the Battles of Alexander the Great. They are based on the monumental original paintings by Charles Le Brun, arguably the greatest French painter of all time. Charles Le Brun, first painter to the King, had been commissioned by Louis XIV to create the paintings in 1665. Five of these paintings currently hang in the Musee du Louvre in Paris, with one of the canvases measuring over 23 feet long.
Within a few decades, a few of Europe’s best engravers were busy recreating these glorious scenes by using a fine burin tool and copper plates. A specialist printer would then apply the ink, which would settle in the engraved lines allowing for paper to then be pressed onto the plate, thus creating the final image. The level of detail that can be achieved with this technique is truly stunning, and the three examples shown here are a testament to that.
After Original Scenes by Charles Le Brun, painter to King Louis XIV of France, 17th Century
Copper engraved plates by Burin Tool by P. Gunst (Pieter Van or Pietro Van), Amsterdam 1658-1732).
Printed by Mortar on paper Wetstein. Descriptions in English, Latin, and French.
VIRTUE FIT TO GOVERN THE WORLD -Alexander, after many Victories gain’d by his Valour ,defeats Darius at Arbela, and having by that Battle putt a Period to the Persain Empire,He Conquers the East. Dimensions: H-32 1/8, L-66 3/4
VIRTUE SURMOUNTS ALL DIFFICULTIES- Alexander, having pass’d Granicus with unequal Forces, attacks the Persians & Putts their numerous Army to Rout. Dimensions: H-32 1/8, L-59 3/8
VALOUR IS PRIZ’D THO VANQUISHED-Alexander, admiring the greatness of soul of King Porus whom he had defeated & made Prisoner,Not only pities him , but [ as an honorable mark of his Esteem] admits him into the Number of his Friends & gives him a kingdom greater than that which he had lost. Dimensions: H-32, L-67
These engravings are rare, not only because of the inherent fragility of paper lasting hundreds of years, but because of the size, historical subject matter, and the fact there are 3. The scenes are bursting with fantastic detail and they deserve to be displayed where one can carefully study each one.
CONDITION: Good overall condition, please inspect photos. Two have new backings. Some text is blocked by frames (not original to engravings, yet antique). Some oxidation to paper.