From the Homeland of the Par Force Hunt
The “ French Hunt ” in the Century after Ridinger
– In Thiébaud only a Later Edition –
Vernet, Carle (actually Antoine Charles Horace, Bordeaux 1758 – Paris 1836). (La chasse à Courre [au cerf].) Suite of 24 sheet. Engravings with etching (8⅜-9 × 11⅞-12⅛ in [21.2-22.8 × 30.2-30.9 cm]) by (Schwerdt: F.) Gamble. C. 1804-1814. Contemp. h. leather with gilt back and brown marbled covers.
Dayot 16; Thiébaud 927 (not knowing the first states at Dayot, Schwerdt & Jeanson and here resp., see below); Schwerdt (most famous private hunting collection of all times dissolved 1939-1946) III, 65 (per Gamble): “Highly interesting set” (before numbering); Jeanson, 1987, 574 (before numbering, besides erroneously taking over Thiébaud’s “about 1830” for his later edition). – Not in Souhart and the Schoeller hunting collection sold in 1921.
Vernet’s 24-plate suite
of instructiveness , variety and richness of pictures ,
here in the final state as recorded by Dayot as the one and only with both the address (as already Dayot and Jeanson and supposedly Schwerdt, too) “Deposé à la Bibliothèque Impériale” and the numbering above right. Thiébaud knows the set only as later, likewise numbered edition with the address “Paris, Veuve Turgis” and dates it in such a way too late at “about 1830”.
The classic interpretation of a new century
as a response to the baroque fullness of the predominant Ridinger as, most interestingly, a favorite especially also with the French aristocracy before the revolution. But now Vernet. First highly paid master of the nobility, then with the red Phrygian cap, but imperturbable in the depiction of what is the fine gentlemen’s savoir vivre. Vernet the Middle, son and at the same time father of famous colleagues.
His outstandingly rare suite surpasses the 1756 Ridinger suite already nominally by one and a half, but also shows the details clearer. Always the process itself is the hub of the picture to which the environment remains subordinated. That an
incomparably splendid aspect of horses
comes along lies in the course of the artist’s nature. Vernet was infatuated with horses:
“ … already in early youth he had taken a special liking for the depiction of horses, and illustrated his textbooks with horse-races and animal fights. Already as a boy he received riding lessons and shortly after an own horse, so that little by little he became an excellent rider … 1781 (the father gave him) a remuneration of 100 Fr. for the picture of a race-horse … under the date of January 27, 1783, (his father writes to him to Rome) he should restrain in riding … (but nevertheless) bought him a (further) horse for about 796 Fr. in 1784. The result of these efforts was the large painting which represents the triumph of Paulus Æmilius and established the artist’s fame in 1787 who in this
had accomplished something exceptional
not just in the historic part, but especially also
by the representation of horses
… and from this time on the artist unrelentingly improved on the talent … to depict with luck horses and any object where such animals appear … ”
So then also the par force horses here are of a race which makes the beholder fidgety not to mount immediately. Besides this Meyer’s Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., XVI, 144 also emphasizes the hunts and hounds. In short, the whole spectrum of a par force hunt grew to the pleasure of Vernet’s :
“ Originating in France … this hunt is also named the ‘French’ .
It was a hunt art form which required complicated regulations and an increased effort in huntsmen and hounds. Contrary to the hunting with hounds and enclosed hunts usual until now which depended on multiple and effective killing of the game, it was meant for just one game … especially … the red deer. It dispenses with any fixing of the place, leaves the lead to the hounded game, and goes along over far distances. Basically an old form of the hunt is taken up here again as it was already practiced in the ancient world and during the Middle Ages before the existence of firearms, that is the mounted hunt of the stag and only with the help of a strong pack … But while with the old hunting with hounds the hounds just hunted with the face and gave up as soon they lost sight of the game, the par force hounds also must be able to follow the scent of the hunted game. The hunt was essentially sophisticated: It is a matter of hunting just one particular stag selected before by the huntsmen … Charm and meaning of this hunt were based upon the fast pursuit of the stag by the pack and the mounted hunters, its distinction from the other deer, and finding again the lost trace. ‘It is the same an amusing and pleasant hunt for those who enjoy riding, want to hear the sound of the hounds, and estimate the blowing, as in which actually the hunt consists of’ … Döbel writes in his … ‘Jäger-Practica’. The par force hunt requested excellent huntsmen … who had to be at the peak of hunting training of their age, had to know the hunt and ‘correct signs’ of the stag, command their horse, work with the hounds, and blow the horn ”
(Gisela Siebert, Kranichstein, 55 f.).
This all then the stations of this set, bound here contrary to the incomprehensible numbering of the plates (this indeed correctly limited to 1-24, however, e.g., the introducing search-hunter scenes numbered 21 and 16 resp., Mort & Curée even with 4 & 5) in the natural sequence as seen per pencil by the previous owner, which deviates only partially from the likewise contemporarily bound Schwerdt copy, for the stag’s final phase evidently faulty though.
The Entrance of the Search-Hunter in the Forest (21) – The Pulling Hound scents into the Thicket (16) – Yet they search past the Resting Stag (13) – The Hunting Party (8) – The Waiting with the Relay Hounds (18) – Confirmation of the Trace (6) – The Attack (9) – The Launched Stag (15) – The Hunt (24) – The Wrong Track (19) – The Royal amongst two Young Stags to the left – the Pack to the right (14) – The Wrong Track (11) – The Ramifications (12) – Followed anew (23) – In Stretched Pursuit (20) – Unleashing of Relay Hounds (22) – The Stag enters the Water (1) – The Hounds bring him out again (7) – The Stag in the Final Phase (10) – He turns to Bay (2) – Mort (4) – The Curée (5) – Post-Search for Hounds (3) – Hunting Horses of tomorrow (17) .
Nothing that might have been skipped. Downright more German than a German.
Carle Vernet .
Besides the numbering each plate with the inscription of its situation, the names of artist (4x Dessiné par C. Vernet, the others Vernet delt.) and engraver (4x Gravé par Gamble, the others Gamble sc.) and the Deposé à la Bibliothèque Impériale as assistance for dating: in 1814 Napoleon’s “imperial” library became “royal” again. Analogously hereto Thieme-Becker with regard to C., F. & A. Gamble: engraver family at Paris about 1800 (though in respect of hunting scenes mentioning only such ones engraved after the father Claude Joseph Vernet).
On the stag turning to bay (no. 2) the “Impériale” effaced as a hint for an impression from after the end of the Napoleonic empire indeed, but yet before the address à la Thiébaud, also slightly less wide margins, on lighter laid paper though, and of very fine impression, even still with plate dirt. Contrary hereto the other sheets printed on a particularly heavy paper without watermark lines with margins of about 3-4 top and below and 5.5 cm laterally resp. Plates 8 & 3 (4 & 23 of the binding) with watermark fragment “8”. The
uniformly fine print quality
not least determined by the fine handling of light and shadow .
The left platemarks predominantly impressed a little sharply and providently backed acid-freely, likewise two marginal tears. The wide paper margins mostly just a little and moreover on the outer edge only foxspotted on two to three sides, the interior margins with mounting traces of supposedly removed overlays, the front fly-leaf renewed with old paper. The binding partially rubbed, but not unproper and as contemporary the positively still fine cover for a
hunting-historically absolutely outstanding scenario ,
thematically belonging “ to the most wanted works ” of hunting prints
as Thienemann stated on occasion of Ridinger’s set of just 16 sheet. Once at home in the Orient, introduced in Germany by Charlemagne, experiencing its rebirth in 18th century France, here now then the final, the sovereign creation as supposedly
France’s last bow to “her” finest hunt .
Offer no. 28,049 / price on application
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(Señ. G. E., 19. Dezember 2003)