This drawing made in 1782 with quasi-photographic realism presents us with the rare portrait of a harpsichord maker established in Paris, Joseph Treyer.
1. Charles Nicolas Cochin
Born in 1715, Charles-Nicolas Cochin was trained by his parents and by the painter Jean II Restout. He made his first engraving at the age of 12 in 1727. He accompanied the Marquis de Vandières (future Marquis de Marigny) to Italy from 1749 to 1751 with Jacques-Germain Soufflot and Abbé Le Blanc. On his return he became a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, but he did not present his reception piece until 1763. In 1752 he succeeded Charles-Antoine Coypel as the curator of drawings in the King's Cabinet.
During his lifetime he produced over 1,500 pieces of engravings, that were either directly made by him or by other engravers on the basis of his preparatory drawings (like the work we present) and thousands of drawings, including over two hundred portraits. Among these drawings, portraits have always been much sought-after. The Goncourt brothers called him the "profiler" and saw in these portraits "an iconography of the century".
2. Joseph Treyer, a harpsichord maker in Paris in the 18th century
Joseph Treyer is the son of Jean-Adam Treyer, the mayor of Metzen in the Canton of Basel in Switzerland. He is also the nephew of Jean Keiser, a master hapsichord maker who had settled in Paris under the name of ‘L'Empereur’. The latter, who brought Joseph Treyer to Paris, treated him like his son and chose him to take over his business. Joseph Treyer married a seamstress named Jeanne Fêtu de La Sablonnière on August 4th 1764, with whom he had no descendants. He succeeded his uncle and continued to make harpsichords under the name of L'Empereur. He died in 1788.
3. Description of the work
Joseph Treyer is depicted as a middle-aged man, in profile. The curls of his wig are extremely detailed and give the portrait a quasi-photographic realism. Above the portrait is a trompe l'oeil pinpoint, a detail that will not be repeated in the engraving.
The engraving was made in the same year by S.C. Miger (1736 - 1828), an engraver who had started as an apprentice with Charles-Nicolas Cochin. As always for an engraving, it reproduces our model on an inverted basis.
Main bibliographical sources :
Hapsichord making in Paris : Eighteenth century Pierre J. Hardouin - The Galpin Society Journal Volume 12 May 1959
Le Dessin Français au XVIIIe siècle Louis-Antoine Prat Musée du Louvre/ Somogy Art Editions March 2017
Delevery information :
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3 800 €