Le Corbeau from L’Artiste
In 1862, a group of French artists that included Édouard Manet, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Félix Bracquemond formed the Société des Aquafortistes to promote etching as an independent (rather than reproductive) medium. Bracquemond was relentless in pursuing this task, creating nearly 1 000 etchings over his illustrious career. Le Corbeau, an ominous image of ravens and gallows was published in the periodical L’Artiste on February 6, 1859. The etching was made after a pen drawing, and was likely intended as a pendant to his Margot la critique etching. Bracquemond frequently produced prints of birds filled with enigmatic symbolism, and often, social critique. Here, the menacing antagonist that confronts the viewer symbolizes the black-robed lawyer. The dark shadow cast by the raven onto the brick wall, highlights the bird’s pointed beak and further amplifies the grim nature of this etching. The dangling noose at the top left, along with the group of carnivorous ravens that form a sinister audience near the top right corner, suggest that someone’s death is imminent.