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Adoration of the Magi. Etching. 24.1 x 20.5 cm. 1619. Robert-Dumesnil 2 I (of II); Pacht Bassani 36 I (of II).
Claude Vignon’s rare etching of the Adoration of the Magi is justifiably regarded as one of his major achievements as a printmaker. His unconventional interpretation of this crucial moment in the history of salvation exudes a great appeal. The protagonists emerge individually and with great effect from the gloomy and somewhat eerie light of the stable. The tall, gaunt figure of King Balthazar in the right foreground, whose striking pointed crown looks quite exotic, is very impressive. The print, signed in reverse and dated 1619, arose during Vignon’s first stay in Rome and is on offer here in the first state. Later on the work was falsely attributed to Pietro Testa, whereupon Vignon’s name and date were deleted and replaced by “Pietro Testa inv. e fece” in the second state.
The composition is based on one of Vignon’s own drawings which is now in the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre in Paris (pen and brown ink, 24.4 x 19.9 cm, inv. no. 22196). The drawing and etching, in turn, probably served as the model for one of the artist’s early paintings. The work Adoration of the Magi, which also dates to 1619, is now in the Dayton Art Institute in Ohio. According to Paola Pacht Bassani, a comparison between the various details in the images permits the conclusion that the etching was made some time between the drawing and the painting and not, as is very often the case, after the completion of the painting.
Claude Vignon was trained by Jacob Bunel in Tours and Georges Lallemant in Paris. In 1617 he went to Rome, where his style was greatly influenced by Caravaggism. Having returned to Paris in 1623, Vignon became a highly prolific and respected painter, Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu being among his patrons. His printed oeuvre, by contrast, is quite small; Robert-Dumesnil records just twenty-seven prints.
A very fine, tonal impression with traces of a thread margin around the framing line. Minor ageing and minimal traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition. Literature: Paola Pacht Bassani: Claude Vignon, 1593–1670, Paris 1993, pp. 186–189, no. 36.Contact us for further information