Rare enough as it is

and now even so perfectly fine , too

Larmessin, Nicolas II de (c. 1638 Paris 1694). Habit de Chaudronnier. The copperware salesman, richly laden and dressed with copperwares. With landscape scenery. Engraving with etching at/by Gerard Valck (1651/2 Amsterdam 1726). C. 1695-1720. Inscribed: G. Valck. Excudit., otherwise as above. 11⅛ × 7½ in (28.2 × 18.9 cm).

Nicolas de Larmessin, Chaudronnier

HABIT DES MÉTIERS ET PROFESSIONS. – Lipperheide Pe4 (different edition); Colas 1779; British Museum I,7.195 (cut on threes sides within the edge of the subject, below within the platemark with partial loss of the publisher’s inscription). – Cf. R. A. Weigert, Sur Larmessin et les costumes grotesques, in Nouvelles de l’Estampe, 2, 1969, pp. 67-75. – On fine, yet firm Dutch laid paper uncut on three sides as also used by the late Ridinger for his precious illuminated sets as “to this … the most decent and best”. – Typographical watermark. – Margins laterally 1-1.3, above & below 2-2.8 cm wide. – In the upper margin the original little pinholes of the stitching of the serial parts.

Marvelous , deep black impression

before the numbering

from Valck’s set of contemporary copies, published in six issues of six sheet each.

To what extent the different titles the sheets are known for – beside the above Habit des métiers et profession also Costumes grotesques et les métiers or just Costumes grotesques – have their origin in the different editions or ultimately go back to sequels on the part of Larmessin may be left undecided.

According to Colas comprising all in all supposedly 97 sheet, the series, published 1695, enjoyed great popularity and correspondingly numerous editions and copies. However, complete copies are practically not provable. So in the Lipperheide Costume Library there are just 38 prints plus 40 copies, of which 23 are not present in the original. And the omnibus volume of the Bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs in Paris even features but 35 of 77 (sic!) plates, amended by – including some duplicates – likewise 40 copies in reverse as well as two further torsi originating in the late 18th century. Also the British Museum holds beside one single Larmessin print only 25 of Valck’s direct copies, including a duplicate. At present on the market besides a set of 38 reverse copies.

Common to aforesaid reverse copies as actual pirate copies beside the omission of the landscape scenery most notably the missing of any artist, engraver or publisher inscription.

Valck’s copies , however ,

— so here , too —

with the complete accessories and moreover non-inverted

and besides furnished with his Excudit.

Present Chaudronnier besides missing at least in Paris as also aforesaid market copy. Just as generally also individual sheets regardless of which edition are to be found only occasionally and frequently in lamentable preservation. So then also the sheets of the British Museum are cut throughout at least to the edge of the subject, frequently also within this and also otherwise timemarked.

According to Weigert to be ascribed exclusively to Nicolas II, not least with regard to the size of the series at least a co-operation of the younger brother Nicolas III (1640 Paris 1725) – to whom the set is ascribed to elsewhere, too – should not be precluded à priori.

With the attributes of the respective trade not only laden, but rather more or less dressed with – so here pots and tankards form sleeves & trousers, while kettles cover the rest of the body and a bucket serves as hat – , Larmessin’s representations follow the grotesques of mannerism and suggest sujets by Guiseppe Arcimboldo (1530 Milan 1593) as important precursors of surrealism. Just as Lipperheide speaks of Allegories of the Crafts and Trade.

Present here then the copperware salesman in the contemporary direct copy at Gerard Valck’s of, it shall be repeated,

absolutely perfect printing quality & perfect preservation

on laid paper uncut on three sides

and in such a manner as rare as rarely so fine .

Offer no. 15,777 | EUR 870. | export price EUR 827. (c. US$ 1000.) + shipping

„ danke für die prompte Lieferung der beiden hübschen Cassas-Blätter (von Antiochia). Den Überweisungsauftrag gab ich gestern zur Bank. Viele Grüße und ein schönes Wochenende … “

(Herr K. O., 6. Februar 2009)