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Saint-Aubin, Gabriel deDate of birth and death: 1724- 1780
Nationality: FrenchUploaded artworks: 16
Draughtsman, etcher and painter, part of a French family of artists, brother of Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin. He studied with the painters Etienne Jeaurat and Hyacinthe Colin de Vermont, but failed three times to win the Prix de Rome. He broke with the AcadĂ©mie Royale, preferring to support and exhibit at the AcadĂ©mie de St Luc.
Although he continued to paint such pictures as A Street Show in Paris (c. 1760; London, National Gallery; other examples in Rouen, MusĂ©e des Beaux-Arts), he is best known as a draughtsman and etcher. He was a passionate and unconventional observer of the sights of the Paris streets and of the social scene. In his many drawings he combined pencil, black and red chalk, bistre, ink and watercolour to create dazzling spontaneous effects. He drew incidents that struck him as he wandered the streets, or entertainments that he attended. He recorded them, noting dates and times, in sketchbooks or sometimes in the margins and blank pages of printed books that he was carrying. These drawings of contemporary incidents include the Fire at the Foire Saint-Germain on the Night of 16-17 May 1762 (private collection) and the Crowning of Voltaire at the ThĂ©Ă˘tre-FranĂ§ais in 1778 (Paris, Louvre).
He went regularly to the Salon of the AcadĂ©mie Royale and to art sales, covering the margins and flyleaves of his sale catalogues and Salon livrets with tiny sketches of works of art and the passing scene. One hundred of these illustrated catalogues were among his effects when he died, and of these about a third survive. These include the livrets for the Salons of 1761, 1769 and 1777 (all Paris, BibliothĂ¨que Nationale), as well as the catalogues of the sales of Louis-Michel van Loo in 1772 and Charles Natoire in 1778 (both Paris, BibliothÄŤque Nationale), and that of Pierre-Jean Mariette in 1775 (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts). Together with his etchings and large watercolours (e.g. Paris, Louvre) of the Louvre's Salon CarrĂ© at the time of the exhibitions of 1753, 1767 and 1769, they constitute a precious record of Paris art life in the 18th century.
Saint-Aubin, despite the charm of his work, had a largely unsuccessful career, and at his death his older brother wrote a severe biographical account, deploring his paintings and the confused existence he led. He painfully failed several times to gain first prize at the AcadĂ©mie and eventually became a member of the AcadĂ©mie de Saint-Luc.
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