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Claude Vignon

(1593 Tours – 1670 Paris)

The Bodies of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Etching. 20.6 x 14.6 cm. 1620. Robert-Dumesnil 19; Nagler 19; Le Blanc 21. Watermark: Small coats of arms.

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.

The artist’s early etchings include the present poignant and very liberally treated sheet showing the Apostles Peter and Paul lying next to each other in a grave. In Apocryphal writings Paul’s killing took place at the same time as Peter’s crucifixion in Rome, which explains combined depictions of their mar­­tyrdoms from the Middle Ages onwards. Using animated and expressive strokes of the needle Vignon depicts the lifeless bodies of the Apostles in a roughly walled grave niche, to which an angel holding a palm in each hand descends. The work dates to 1620 when Vignon was in Rome and was published by François Langlois (Ciartres), as is indicated by the inscriptions at the bottom left and right. A superb, crisp and tonal impression with fine wiping marks and unbroken thread margins. Remains of old hinges in the left margin verso, minor ageing and slight handling traces, otherwise in excellent condition. Rare in this printing quality. From the collection of Philipp Herrmann (Lugt 1352a).

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