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François Tortebat

(circa 1610–13 – 1690, Paris)

Allegory of Divine Love. Etching after Simon Vouet. 25.8 x 15.6 cm. 1664. Robert-Dumesnil 10.

The painter and etcher, François Tortebat, was a member of the first group of pupils to study under Simon Vouet in Paris, having joined the artist’s studio there sometime between 1631 and 1633. Following a short stay in Italy Tortebat returned in the 1640s to the French capital, where he married Vouet’s eldest daughter Francesca in 1643. He subsequently distinguished himself as a reliable collaborator in Vouet’s studio, where he played a key role between 1643 and 1647. In addition to working on large decorative projects, Tortebat produced a small number of high-quality reproductive engravings after compositions by his father-in-law. The present Allegory of Divine Love was published in 1664. After Vouet’s premature death in 1649, a large number of plates were found in the artist’s studio; these were part of an extensive project intended to make Vouet’s paintings accessible to a wider public by means of reproductive engravings. The task was subsequently largely entrusted to his two sons-in-law, Michel Dorigny and François Tortebat. The rare sheet on offer here has been executed in a consummate and varied etching style. Dense cross and parallel hatchings alternate with areas of paper left white, thus creating an attractive and striking chiaroscuro effect entirely in accord with the characteristic features of Vouet’s style. A superb, rich impression, with wide margins. Minimal ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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