Aug 29, 2018

Tomb with Sphinx

Tomb with Sphinx

c. 1779–84

Louis Jean Desprez

(French, 1743–1804)

Aquatint with etching

Platemark: 34 x 48.7 cm (13 3/8 x 19 3/16 in.); Sheet: 35 x 50.3 cm (13 3/4 x 19 13/16 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Trust 2018.207

Catalogue raisonné: Wollin 28

Did you know?

The growing popularity of Egypt in the late 18th century, bolstered by Napoleon Bonaparte’s ultimately failed attempt to colonize the country, ensured a ready market for the subject of Louis Jean Desprez's print.


Originally trained as an architect, Louis Jean Desprez produced this print depicting a tomb while living in Rome. He combined details observed while visiting catacombs in southern Italy with macabre inventions, such as the pair of feet visible from within the sculptural space. Desprez creatively used aquatint—a printmaking technique that produces shades of gray—to render the space’s dramatic shadows and stone surfaces.

See also
PR - Aquatint
Type of artwork: 

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