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Louis Joseph Le Lorrain

(1715 Paris – 1759 St. Petersburg)

The Death of Lucretia. Etching, after Jean François de Troy. 28.8 x 22.4 cm. 1742. Le Blanc 11, Inventaire du Fonds Français 6.

Louis Joseph Le Lorrain, a painter of architecture and historical scenes, studied under Jacques Dumont, called le Romain, at the Paris Academy, which awarded him its prestigious Grand Prix in 1739. From 1740 he spent eight years as a pensionnaire in the Palazzo Mancini in Rome and was made Academy member in Paris in 1756. A regular participant in the Paris Salon exhibitions of the 1750s, Lorrain earned a reputation for his religious and allegorical compositions and architectural paintings. His renown was not limited to France, however. In 1758, Tsarina Elisabeth of Russia invited him to St. Petersburg, where he was appointed rector of the newly founded Academy of Arts.

Le Lorrain produced a small but high-quality printed oeuvre, to which the present rare etching depicting the death of Lucretia also belongs. The print reproduces a painting made in 1742 by the Parisian artist, Jean François de Troy (1679–1752), who was director of the Académie Française in Rome from 1738 to 1751. The dramatic scene from Roman history is treated in a very striking, expressive style that is full of Baroque pathos. The powerful, pyramid-like composition is dominated by two Roman warriors who join forces to support the lifeless body of Lucretia. To their left, a soldier dressed in splendid armour melodramatically holds aloft the deadly weapon with which the heroine took her own life. A superb, contrasting impression with thread margins around the platemark.

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