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Jean Morin

(circa 1605/10–1650, Paris)

Christ as Salvator Mundi. Etching and engraving after Philippe de Champaigne. 43.4 x 31.5 cm. Robert-Dumesnil 25, Mazel 030 III (of IV). Watermark: Letters (countermark).

Jean Morin is one of the most independent and remarkable of 17th century French printmakers. Although trained as a painter, he worked as an etcher for most of his life. Morin produced several large-format religious prints after Philippe de Champaigne, who exerted a considerable influence on his style.

The most impressive features of this large portrait of Christ as Salvator Mundi are its tremendous presence and vividness of expression. The Saviour’s gaze fixed on the viewer is wonderfully evocative. Morin shows consummate technical mastery as an engraver. Employing a wide variety of graphical abbrevia­tions – fine cross-hatchings, narrow parallel lines and little dots – the artist succeeds in conveying the different individual qualities and texture of the hair, skin and material and orchestrating them into an effective whole. The virtuoso treatment of form and subtle use of light serve to heighten the religious pathos of the portrait.

The print on offer here in a contemporary impression before the final reworking is very rare. The only impressions Mazel was able to verify are in Paris (B. n. F.), Lyon (Bibliothèque munici­pale), Brussels (Bibliothèque royale de Belgique) and Vienna (Albertina). A superb, contrasting impression trimmed to the platemark. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. From the collection of Ambroise Firmin-Didot, Paris (Lugt 119, sold on 19 April 1877, Catalogue illustré des dessins et estampes composant la collection de M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot, p. 146, lot 1513, described as “Très-belle épreuve”).

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