Audran, Girard

, the most celebrated artist of the family, was the third son of the first-mentioned Claude Audran, and born at Lyons in 1640. He learned from his father the first principles of designing and engraving following the example of his brother, he went to Paris, where his genius soon began to manifest itself and his reputation brought him to the knowledge of Le Brun, who employed him to engrave the “Battle of Constantine,” and the “Triumph” of that emperor, and for these works he obtained apartments at the Gobelins. At Rome, where he went for improvement, he is said to have studied under Carlo Maratti, in order to perfect himself in drawing and in that city, where he resided three years, he engraved several fine plates among; the rest the portrait of pope Clement IX. M. Colbert, a great encourager of the arts, was so struck with the beauty of Audran’s works, | whilst he resided at Rome, that he persuaded Louis XIV. to recall him. On his return, he applied himself assiduously to engraving, and was appointed engraver to the king, From whom he received liberal encouragement. In 1681, he was named counsellor of the royal academy and died at Paris in 1703. He had been married, but left no male issue behind him.

Mr. Strutt considers Gerard Audran as the greatest engraver, without any exception, that ever existed in the historical line, an opinion, which, he thinks, a careful examination of “The Battles of Alexander” alone, will justify. His great excellency, above that of any other engraver, was, that though he drew admirably himself, yet he contracted no manner of his own but transcribed on copper simply, with great truth and spirit, the style of the master, whose pictures he copied. On viewing his prints, we lose sight of the engraver, and naturally say,* it is Le Brun, it is Poussin, &c. “This sublime artist,” says the Abbe Fontenai, borrowing chiefly from M. Basan, “far from conceiving that a servile arrangement of strokes, and the too frequently cold and affected clearness of the graver, were the great essentials of historical engraving, gave worth to his works by a bold mixture of free hatchings and dots, placed together apparently without order, but with an inimitable degree of taste and has left to posterity most admirable examples of the style in which grand compositions ought to be treated. His greatest works, which have not a very flattering appearance to the ignorant eye, are the admiration of true connoisseurs, and persons of real taste. He acquired the most profound knowledge of the art by the constant attention and study which he bestowed upon the science of design, and the frequent use he made of painting from nature. He always knew how to penetrate into the genius of the painter he copied from and often improved upon, and sometimes even surpassed him.” Mr. Strutt has given a list of his principal engravings, divided into four classes, to which we refer the reader.