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Charles-Nicolas Cochin II
French, 1715-1790

Profile Portrait Medallions of Gentlemen Dressed in Classical Garb, ca. 1760

Graphite and red chalk on creme laid paper, 3.25 x 6.5 in (8.4 x 16.8 cms)


   
Provenance:
HRH Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850) (L. 118, L. suppl. 1266), 7th son of George III of England; by descent to his son, George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904); the sale of George's drawings on November 28, 1904, Sotheby's, London; with E.F. Bonaventure, New York City, until the 1930's, where purchased by a New York collector; a deceased New York City estate.

Probably inspired by antique coins and medals, profile portraits became a well-established tradition in the eighteenth-century, after Charles-Nicolas Cochin the Younger popularized small round profiles in the second half of the century.  Our drawings are beautiful and rare examples of Cochin's portrait miniature work.  These drawings once belonged to H.R.H. Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), 7th son of George III of England.  The drawings are probably related to an engraved series depicting the members of the Socit acadmique des Enfants d'Apollon.  The Socit comprised one hundred members ("Professors"), of whom half were musicians.  The remainder were artists, men of letters and intellectuals.  Cochin was director of the Socit for one year.

The engraving plates remained the property of the Socit until its dissolution during the Revolution.  Most of Cochin's medallions were engraved by Madame Linge and Miger en 1780-1.

* * * * *

Cochin the Younger, a draftsman and critic, was one of the primary tastemakers in France during the 1700s. In addition to creating independent drawings, he produced numerous designs for paintings and sculptures, and illustrated over two hundred books. Natural talent and academic training prepared him for success, while the connections of his parents, both of whom were engravers, insured that he would achieve a prominent position in the French court. In 1737 Cochin was employed by an agency of King Louis XV to create commemorative prints for every birth, marriage, and funeral at court. Following a two-year trip to Italy, he was made curator of the royal drawings collection, and given lodgings in the Louvre. He was also the King's administrator of the arts from 1755 until 1770, and was responsible for assigning pensions, commissions, and placements to artists. He also established programs for the decoration of the royal chateaux. Cochin considered himself an educator and in his writing he was especially critical of the prevailing Rococo style. He advocated technical precision and the skilled selection of elements from nature.

Cochin was also the faithful friend and biographer (Essai sur la vie de M. Chardin of 1780) of the great Jean-Baptiste-Sim
on Chardin.

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