Object Image

Tomb with Death Enthroned as a Sphinx

Introduced to the rudiments of etching while a student in Paris, Desprez went on to master the more complicated technique of aquatint after being sent to study at the French Academy in Rome. Visits to ancient ruins may have stimulated his series of four tombs, large sepulchral fantasies executed in a grainy aquatint, lending them a timeworn patina. In this image from the series, a skeleton adorned like a king or pharaoh guards a tomb inscribed with pseudo-hieroglyphics.

Credit: Purchase, Janet Lee Kadesky Ruttenberg Fund, in honor of Colta Ives, 2012...

c. 1779-84
Etching and aquatint, printed in brown ink, ii/ii
33.7 x 49.3cm
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

Where you'll find this

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection