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Legros, Alphonse
L’Incendie
around 1876

Alphonse Legros made his salon debut in 1857, the same year in which he developed an interest for etching, an artistic passion he maintained throughout the remainder of his career. Although his artistic output has remained somewhat underappreciated, his etchings include landscapes in the tradition of Rembrandt and genre subjects marked by a sense of tension and suspended animation, as in L’Incendie. In this image, a burly man covers his face from clouds of smoke as he attempts to rescue the body of an infant from a building that has caught fire, while a woman protects a kneeling girl from the burning flames. The facial expressions of the female characters reveal their sense of distress. The older of these two figures huddles a cradle with her left arm and looks at the burning building in despair. Meanwhile, the younger girl can barely turn her head around to witness the disastrous event. Legros does not disclose whether the baby has survived the incident or has died before the man could carry him to safety – lending the artwork an added element of trepidation. L’Incendie confirms Legros’s role as a key contributor to the etching revival that took place in France and Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century.

 
Legros, Alphonse
Dijon, France 1837–Watford, United Kingdom 1911
L’Incendie
around 1876
Drypoint on japenese paper, 6 state of 9
24.3 x 27.3 cm (plate); 26.9 x 30.6 cm (sheet)
Gift of Katharine Lochnan in memory of David McTavish (1943–2014), 2020
63-010.06

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