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The greatness of the soul, Benoît Audran

The greatness of the soul, Benoit Audran

Inv. No. CE4/00213

This print is titled ‘Trait de grandeur d’âme’ by the French engraver Benoît Audran (1661-1721). It is a reproduction of the painting by Eustache le Sueur (1617-1655) ‘Alexander and his doctor’, 1647 that is held in the National Gallery of London.

Born in Lyon, Audran came from a family of engravers, from which he learnt the skill. He studied the Academy in 1709 and was appointed the King’s engraver. His engravings reproduced the works of great French artists such as Le Sueur, Coypel and Le Brun.

There is an inscription in French underneath the scene which explains the story portrayed: Alexander the Great, who was ill, had received the news that his doctor, Philip, was going to poison him. Despite this, Alexander fearlessly takes the glass that Philip hands him. The scene represents the nobility and strength of Alexander’s personality, who is so repulsed by the thought of committing certain crimes, that he finds it unimaginable that others can commit such crimes.

The print was made using the techniques of etching and engraving on copper plate.

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