4010. Physionotrace

PHYSIONOTRACE. Physionotrace portrait of the opera-singer C.(ristoffer) Karsten, engraved by Queneday, Paris 1811
Engraved oval portrait, plate area about 100x71, total area 213x133. Very good impression.
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.
Cristoffer (Christopher) Karsten (1756-1827); Swedish operasinger (tenor - barytone), one of the foremost opera singers of the Gustavian era, visited in 1810 Paris, where he found an admirer in Grétry. Also a friend of the Swedish poet Bellman, who wrote a small cantata for him. He received the area Kanton at Drottningholm from king Gustav III as a fief, buried at the Lovö cemetary, where king Karl XIV Johan later had a memorial erected over him.