4009. Physionotrace

PHYSIONOTRACE. Physionotrace portrait of the composer A. Gretry, engraved by Queneday, Paris 1808.
Engraved portrait, plate area about 240x185 (including text in lower part), total area 330x248.Very good impression. Photo.
The method of physionotrace is used to make portraits in profile. It derives its name from physiognomy, the form of a person's features and expression, and 'tracing'. The method was invented by Gilles-Louis Chrétien in 1784. The physionotrace apparatus, a mechanical wooden instrument with a viewfinder, worked as a pantograph device. It enabled the artist to draw a portrait of a sitter much quicker and could also be used as an aid to make engravings from copper plates.
Until today no original physionotrace apparatus has been found. There is only one drawing depicting the apparatus, now at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Prints by this method were only made during a relatively short time in history and are very rare today.
André Grétry (1741-1813), Belgian-French composer, mostly of comic operas, which were internationally successfull, not the least in Sweden.