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Laurent de la Hyre

(1606–1656, Paris)

Venus and Adonis. Etching. 18.3 x 24 cm. Circa 1630. Inventaire du Fonds Français 25, Robert-Dumesnil 25 I (of II). Watermark: Fragment.

The Parisian-born artist, Laurent de La Hyre, made a name for himself in the first half of the 17th century primarily as a painter of religious and mythological scenes, although he also took an early interest in printmaking and left an exquisite oeuvre of high-quality etchings. After studying in Fontainebleau he was active for a while in Paris in the flourishing studio run by Georges Lallemand. Among the earliest etchings he made at this time is this charming, intimate depiction. “Vénus a les deux bras jetés voluptueusement autour du cou d’Adonis, qui, de la main, presse amoureusement la taille de la déesse” (Robert-Dumesnil).

De la Hyre has etched the poetic scene with great verve and virtuosity. The refined and delicate hatching patterns give the erotic encounter a wonderful lightness and transparency. Last but not least, the mannerist-style elegance of the figures also enhances the visual appeal of this precious little print. The young artist’s abundant talent is readily apparent even at this early stage. A very fine, harmonious early impression with even margins, before the address of Poilly. In pristine condition.

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