Young Man with Pince-Nez
  • Paul Gavarni
  • Paris 1804 -1866 Auteuil
  • Young Man with Pince-Nez
  • Pen in black ink, with wash in colour,
  • signed and inscribed with pen in brown ink:
    Gavarni/Si mon pince-nez m’empèche de voir,
    ça ne regarde personne
  • 340 × 217 mm

In 1824, Hippolyte Chevalier resolved to pursue his artistic inclinations and began to train as an engraver. One year later, a lengthy visit to the Cirque de Gavarnie in the Pyrenees motivated him to adopt his pseudonym Gavarni, under which he would analyse the urban life of Paris as an independent illustrator and caricaturist after 1828. In the process, he made an almost manic collection of his critical impressions from the streets, theatres, and salons of the metropolis. These drawings and watercolours filled up albums and found a ready market in the popular periodicals of the city.

But it was Gavarni’s collaboration with the magazine Charivari that made him internationally famous after 1837, as had been the case with Honoré Daumier. He was succesful at blending his gift for observation and great talent as a draughtsman with humour, irony, and even scorn. Gavarni seasoned his numerous series of lithographs with mocking commentaries at the expense of his subjects but to the great entertainment of his readers.

Gavarni’s handwritten annotation on this watercolour is one such exposure of a young pretender, “even if he can’t see through his pince-nez, it’s nobody else’s business...”, but it gives this self-important dandy a serious appearance in his own eyes.