A Bacchanal
  • Charles Joseph Dominique Eisen
  • Valenciennes 1720 - 1778 Brussels
  • A Bacchanal, 1777
  • Pen and black ink, grey wash,
    the background painted all black,
    several framing lines with black ink, on beige paper
  • signed and dated in the lower middle:
    Ch. Eisen. invenit. et fecit. / 1777
    numbered with pen in brown ink lower right: No. 17.
  • 163 × 247 mm (192 × 272 mm size of the sheet)

After initial instruction from his father François, Charles Eisen completed his artistic education under Jacques Ph. Le Bas (1701-1783), who ran a very successful school for graphic artists in Paris. In 1751, Eisen was admitted to the Académie de Saint-Luc and regularly exhibited in its salons for more than twenty years. Through the printed catalogues of the academy, there exists to this day a complete record of his paintings.

However, Eisen enjoyed his greatest success as a book illustrator. For example, in 1762 he created 80 designs for a single edition of La Fontaine’s fables and was himself honoured therein with a portrait. At this same time, Madame de Pompadour appointed him as her drawing teacher, and the king granted him the title Dessinateur du Roi. With his books on the décor, art, and architecture of the age, as well as the popular Gravures galantes, Eisen is still considered one of the best chroniclers of the epoch and of the taste of the Grande Marquise.

Only his unpolished manners and loose personal conduct prevented him from achieving a truly great career at court; instead Charles Eisen had to flee his creditors from Paris to Brussels in 1777, where he shortly thereafter died greatly in debt.