Balechou, Nicholas

, born at Aries in 1719, was son of a button-seller, and died suddenly at Avignon in the month of August 1765. He made himself famous by his engravings, which obtained him a place in the academy of painting at Paris. He had acquired a peculiar manner of engraving, which gave a mellowness and delicacy to his works. When he would, he united the nice finishing of Edelink and Naiiteuil, with the bold strokes of Mellau. His principal pieces are “Les belles marines,” which he engraved from M. Vernet, and the portrait of Frederick Augustus, elector of Saxony and king of Poland. This portrait, a master-piece of engraving, was the fatal cause of all his misfortunes, of his exclusion from the academy, and of his forced retreat to Avignon. It was by order of the dauphiness that he had executed this portrait; and he took proof-impressions of it, contrary to the express promise he had given to that princess. It is at the head of the fine collection of the Dresden gallery. The talents of Balechou were not confined to engraving. He had a taste and some skill in chymistry, which he had studied to a certain extent. It is even not improbable, that a chymical remedy, of which he either took too strong a close, or at an improper time, might contribute not a little to his sudden and premature death.

Strutt says of this engraver, that although the clearness of his strokes, and the depth of colour which he produced, are far beyond any production prior to his own, yet he did not draw well, and on this account his prints want that freedom, correctness and harmony, which a perfect knowledge of drawing generally produces. With all their beauty, they appear heavy and the flesh is not sufficiently distinguished, by the style of engraving, from the other parts of the figure but has a cold silvery effect. This observation must be supposed to refer only to his figures. The two large plates (above mentioned) which he did from Vernet, one representing a storm, the other a calm, must ever be considered as very astonishing exertions of the artist. These are too well known, and too much admired, to need any farther culogium and were never equalled, until they were surpassed by a countryman of ours (YVoollett). Let any one look at the Niobe, the Ceyx and Alcyone, &c. from Wilson, and a very moderate share of judgment will be necessary to turn the balance in favour of the latter. 1


Dict. Hist.Strutt’s Dictionary.