"Lady Jane Grey at the moment of her execution" – 1834 Salon, by Paul Delaroche (1797-1856)
Paul Delaroche was one of the greatest historical painters of the first half of the 19th century. Among other subjects, he was interested in the history of England. He often chose tragic episodes likely to move the public, such as the execution of the young Lady Jane Grey. This niece of king Henry VIII succeeded Edward VI. But she was rapidly ousted by her cousin Mary I, who condemned her to death in 1554. Jane Grey only ruled over England for nine days, from 10 to 19 July 1553.
The House of Goupil published various works by Delaroche using all of its reproduction methods: lithograph, engraving, photograph etc. The company's fame was linked to the popularity of its images but also to their quality. It worked with the best engravers of the period, including Paul Mercuri.
Here it involved a burin engraving, which was the most prestigious, careful and expensive technique because the production of an image of average dimensions took two to three years. It was also an ideal technique for translating Delaroche's style which was more about drawing than colour. Personal and historical reasons meant that it took Mercuri twenty years to complete this engraving!