The Saving of the Infant Pyrrhus, after Nicolas Poussin
72.5 cm x 94.3 cm (28 9/16 in. x 37 1/8 in.)
(Lyon, 1640 - 1703, Paris)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of the Print Study Group, 1990
Gérard Audran’s innovation and ambition established his family’s reputation as the most celebrated workshop of engravers in France. He learned his art from his father and perfected his skills in Rome. Upon his return to Paris, he came to the attention of Charles Le Brun, the most important artist in Louis XIV’s court, who recognized Audran’s talent and remarked that his reproductions of paintings were often better drawn than the originals he copied. Another critic said that the artist “paints with the needle and burin, and in his hands these two instruments take on the facility of a brush.”
They were responding to Audran’s unconventional combination of etching and engraving that allowed each technique to retain its distinctive character, rather than layering or compounding them so that they become indissoluble. This method lent his plates a dynamism and animation not seen in other artists’ work. He worked, too, on a scale that won him the admiration of his peers and collectors. Here, he reproduced Nicolas Poussin’s The Saving of the Infant Pyrrhus (Louvre, Paris) on two sheets joined together and presented it to the Académie Royale in gratitude for accepting him into its ranks earlier in the year.