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Charles François Hutin

(1715 Paris – 1776 Dresden)

The Crucifixion. Etching. 23 x 17.1 cm. 1764. Inventaire du Fonds Français 12; Baudicour 12 I (of II).

The sculptor, painter and printmaker Charles Hutin was first introduced to painting by François Lemoine in Paris. In 1737 he went as a pensionnaire to the Académie de France in Rome, where he was to remain until 1744. While there he devoted himself mainly to sculpture under the guidance of Sébastien Slodtz. After his return to Paris he was admitted to full membership of the Académie royale in 1747. Shortly afterwards, in 1748, Hutin had a surprising stroke of good fortune when he went, together with his brother, Pierre, to Dresden to enter the service of the Elector August II of Saxony. He was to work in the Saxon royal capital until his death. One of Hutin’s first tasks was to collaborate on the compilation initiated by C. H. von Heinecken under the title Recueil d’Estampes d’après les plus célèbres tableaux de la Galerie Royale de Dresde, whose first volume appeared in 1753. Hutin did the preliminary drawings for this extensively illustrated reference work, which were transferred to the printmaking medium by a team of well-known French reproductive engravers. Subsequently Hutin distinguished himself mainly as a painter. In 1762 he was appointed director of the old Dresden Painting Academy and also “Master Academician and Historical Painter”. After the founding of the new Academy in 1764 he occupied a leading position in this institution until his death.

While in Dresden, Hutin produced a small printed oeuvre of his own, which he published in 1763 under the title Recueil de différents sujets composés et gravés par Charles Hutin à Dresde. In addition to subjects from the realms of mythology and antiquity as well as ornamental depictions the series contains several scenes on biblical themes such as the present, dramatically staged Crucifixion which is full of Baroque pathos. The scene has just a handful of protagonists, which gives it a very concise quality. Celestial light shines on Christ’s tortured body, while the rest of the scene is depicted in an almost ghostly half-light. John the Baptist supports the Mother of God who, stricken by intense pain, has sunk to the ground. The whole is treated in a subtle and highly refined etching technique using very narrow and richly varied hatching patterns. Its religious intensity notwithstanding, the Crucifixion scene radiates a sophisticated, courtly elegance typical of the age of Louis XV. A very fine, vibrant impression before the number, with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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