An amusing French caricature of coffee drinkers. The well-dressed subjects are comically unaware of their bad table manners. It originally appeared in a collection of 94 humorous lithographs by Boilly published in the 1820s by François-Séraphin Delpech in Paris as Recueil de Grimaces, each of which portrayed a group of four or five heads with exaggerated facial expressions. Some, like the coffee drinkers shown here, are engaged in a particular activity, such as looking at art, performing music, or making a medical diagnosis. Prints from this series are in the collections of many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library of Congress. The print offered here does not have Delpech’s publisher’s credit and may be from a later edition.
Louis-Léopold Boilly was trained as a trompe-l’oeil painter and moved to Paris in 1785. He is known for his scenes of Parisian leisure, political subjects, still lifes, caricatures and humorous lithographs such as this one. During his lifetime, his meticulously realistic paintings and his prints were extremely popular with the public and collectors. He exhibited at the Salon between 1791 and 1824 and received a gold medal at the Salon of 1804. In 1833, he was admitted to the Legion of Honor and the Institut de France, but his work fell out of favor shortly thereafter. Boilly was the subject of a major exhibition in 1996 of 46 paintings from museums around the world, organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning and soft creases. Dated 1827, this is a 19th century edition of the print.
“The Art of Louis-Léopold Boilly: Modern Life in Napoleonic France.” National Gallery of Art. http://www.nga.gov/past/data/exh709.htm.
“Le Concert (The Concert) by Louis-Léopold Boilly.” Library of Congress. 2 February 2010. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200182888/default.html (8 March 2012).
“Louis-Léopold Boilly.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/00/0096/T009637.asp.