Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800, Dress and Textiles 10 Could 'The Knife-Grinder' be the work of Charles Émile Jacque (1813–1894)?

Topic: Artist

Could this be by the Barbizon School painter and etcher Charles Émile Jacque (1813–1894)? Or is it merely derived from him?

At first I thought it had something of the look of George Morland, but in searching for prints after Morland depicting knife-grinders I came across this etching 'Le Remouleur' by Jacque:

Jacque was in England from 1836 to 1838 and must have been influenced by Morland. The Wisbech picture is close to Jacque’s etching in composition but with sufficient differences (notably in the background, left) to suggest that it is not a painting by another artist derived from the print. It also compares well with this knife-grinder by Charles Émile Jacque in the Burrell Collection at Glasgow:

Completed, Outcome

Edward Stone,

This discussion is now closed. The painting is now listed as after Charles Émile Jacque (1813–1894). This change will be visible on Art UK in due course.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Oliver Perry,

There is another oil version of the picture recorded. It was included in the sale of the Giacomelli collection in Paris 1905 and
reproduced in the catalogue, which is available online.

The composition, including the background is largely the same as the etching, but there are some details such as the roof at the top of the painting, the child's hair, and the tools on the ground, where it diverges from both the print and the Wisbech painting. It is also considerably smaller than the Wisbech painting, measuring just 20x15cm.

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Thanks, Oliver, for that interesting find. All three painting are on wood, I think, even though the support of the Wisbech picture is described as board. The Giocomelli panel is about the same size as that at Glasgow, while the Wisbech picture, as you note, is considerably larger. Although the Giocomelli painting appears to be signed, it seems to be freer and more sketchy in treatment than the other two works which are close in style: in fact, in the old reproduction at least, it has a certain calligraphic quality making it look more like a work on paper.

The literature on Jacque is scant but a monograph by Pierre-Olivier Fanica was published in 1995. I hope to consult this next week. I shall also try to contact the author, who lives near the Forest of Fontainbleau.

Fanica's book is a highly informative biography incorporating a study of the agricultural background to Jacque's work and much else -- but not a catalogue raisonné. However, it has led me to Jean-Pierre Chambon, who has been working on such a catalogue for many years and regularly advises major auction houses on Jacque attributions. I am seeking his advice on the Wisbech painting.

The verdict passed by Jean-Pierre Chambon is that the Wisbech painting is not by Charles Émile Jacque (though he implies it is nineteenth-century). He notes inadequacies in the perspective and draughtsmanship, especially concerning the grindstone trough and the bucket. He also observes that the knife-grinder's hat is more like a Borsalino than the supple and worn-out hats, often off-white in colour, usually seen on Jacque's peasants. He cites the Giacomelli painting as an authentic Jacque to make the point by comparison.

The Wisbech would seem to derive from either the Giacomelli painting or the etching of 1850, or possibly both. Unless there are any further suggestions, I think it would be simplest to record it now as 'After Charles Émile Jacque (1813-1894)'.

Since it seems unlikely anyone is going to argue that this is an autograph work by Jacque or propose the name of a specific Jacque pasticheur, perhaps the discussion could be closed by one of the relevant group leaders (most appropriately, I suggest, by Frances, if she is happy to do so, as there is definitely a French connection).

I recommend we close this discussion. We can conclude that the Wisbech painting is a copy of Jacque’s Le Rémouleur (previously in the Giacomelli collection), possibly based on the 1850 etching printed by Delâtre, or on both the original painting and the print. It should be catalogued as ‘After Charles Émile Jacque (1813-1894)’.

Jade King,

The collection have been contacted about this recommendation.

Edward Stone,

The collection has been contacted and we will pass on any response.