Pierre Charles Lévêque – Portrait of Mme de Graffigny – 1772
Etching representing a portrait of Françoise de Graffigny, bust directed to the left, wearing a bonnet and a fur-lined gown; in an oval frame, made in 1772, Levêque Sculp.
Françoise de Graffigny, born Françoise d´Issembourg du Buisson d´Happoncourt (Nancy, 11 February 1695 - Paris, 12 December 1758) writer, playwright and host of literary salons. She is the author of the famous epistolary novel "Letters of a Peruvian" published in 1747. She is considered one of the most important women in 18th century French literature. Famous in her lifetime, she fell into oblivion during the French Revolution. It was only with the advent of the feminist movement of the 1960s that she was rediscovered and new editions of her works were published. The reading of his main work, “Letters from a Peruvian”, was banned under threat of excommunication in 1765 by the Congregation of the Index of the Holy See, which included it in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Pierre-Charles Levesque (or Lévêque), born March 28, 1736 in Paris, where he died March 12, 1812, was a French engraver, teacher, translator and historian. Raised to be an engraver like his father, Levesque managed to acquire a surprisingly remarkable education, despite the setbacks of his family's fortune. He then earned a living for some time as an engraver, before being appointed, at the recommendation of Diderot, professor in St. Petersburg. Leaving in 1773, he became a professor at the Saint Petersburg Cadet School from 1778 to 1780.
He used his next seven years in Russia to collect material for a comprehensive history of this country, which he published on his return to France. This work was extremely successful: even in Russia, his “Histoire de Russie” became a classic, while in France, it opened the doors of the Académie des inscriptions for him (a French Humanities society), and later of the College de France. He translated Xenophon and Plutarch for the collection of ancient moralists, and his main literary title was a proper translation of Thucydides.
Sources: English Showalter, Françoise de Graffigny: Her Life and Works, Voltaire Foundation, Oxford, 2004; Mémoires de l'Institut de France, 1821.
Artist: Pierre Charles Lévêque (1736-1812).
Medium: Etching on laid paper.
Condition: Very good condition.
Dimensions: 37.3 x 25.5 cm. / 14 ½ x 10 in. (sheet). 27 x 18.5 cm. / 10 ½ x 7 ¼ in. (plate).
Frame: 43 x 33 cm. / 17 x 13 in. New, classic style, acid-free matting and glass.
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