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Gerard de Lairesse

(1641 Liège - 1711 Amsterdam)

The Great Bacchanal (Nox et amorvinumque nihil moderabile suadent ...). Engraving. 38.9 x 51.8 cm. Timmers 34; Hollstein 34.

The painter and etcher, Gerard de Lairesse, a native of Liège who was subsequently active in Amsterdam, is considered the principal representative of Dutch academic Baroque classicism in the late 17th century. Born into an educated family of artists, de Lairesse began carrying out painting commissions at a very early age and went on to produce an extensive oeuvre of religious, mythological and allegorical murals and panel paintings. Poor health later obliged him to devote his attention to essays on art theory, which his son Abraham published in two books. As a painter-etcher de Lairesse was among the most prolific artists at the end of the 17th century. Full of risqué allusions, his Grand Bacchanal portrays the outcome of the interplay between night, love and wine, exemplified by a verse from Ovid’s Amores: “Night and Love and Wine advise no restraint: The first is free from shame, Wine and Love from fear.” (Ovid, Amores 1.6.59). The whole is treated in a highly sophisticated, varied and atmospherically dense etching technique. The vital energy radiating from the briskly staged scene would be inconceivable without the example set by the great Italian masters of the Seicento. The little putto sat crying in the right foreground, for instance, is based on a prototype by Guercino. A very fine, harmonious impression with margins. Minor traces of handling, otherwise in very good condition.

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