L'Enseigne de Gersaint [Gersaint's Shopsign], after Jean-Antoine Watteau
59.4 cm x 86.3 cm (23 3/8 in. x 34 in.)
(Paris, 1702 - 1760, Paris)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1997
Fine and sparkling, this impression of Pierre-Alexandre Aveline’s reproduction of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s L’enseigne de Gersaint of 1721 (Palais Charlottenburg, Berlin) is the centerpiece of the museum’s early eighteenth-century French prints.
In 1721 the art dealer Gersaint commissioned Watteau to make a shop sign for his gallery. Casually arranged in the artist’s trademark lyrical style, the wealthy clientele visiting the shop are as much on display as are the paintings that they study. Cleverly marking the new political era, Watteau included a vignette of handlers packing away a portrait of Louis XIV, who had died seven years earlier.
By combining the techniques of engraving and etching in this reproduction, Aveline achieved an impressive range of tones and details—for example, in the reflections in the mirror and in the windowpanes of the door that leads into an interior room at the center. What Watteau was able to do in paint with the shimmering fabric of the costumes, Aveline successfully translated into black and white using the burin and etching needle. Although Watteau died at thirty-seven, his art continued to have an impact until the end of the century, in part through reproductions such as this.