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Louis Joseph Le Lorrain

(1715 Paris – 1759 St. Petersburg)

The Judgment of Solomon. Etching after Jean François de Troy. 28.8 x 22.4 cm. 1742. Le Blanc 1, Inventaire du Fonds Français 1. Watermark: Maltese cross in a rosary.

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, when he was still only a young man, and made him a full member 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 which includes the present rare etching with a depiction of Solomon’s judgment. The print reproduces a painting by the Parisian artist, Jean François de Troy (1679–1752), from the year 1742, which is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. De Troy was director of the Académie de France in Rome from 1738 to 1751 and produced the painting for a six-part series commissioned by Cardinal Pierre Guérin de Tencin for the Epis­copal Palace in Lyon. Louis Joseph Le Lorrain transferred four of de Troy’s works to the medium of engraving the same year. The Old Testament scene is treated in a very striking, expressive manner which exudes a maximum of Baroque pathos. Of great dramatic effect is the contrast between Solomon’s thought­f­ul, introspective pose and the brutal act that is about to take place.

A very fine, contrasting and crisp impression with thread margins around the distinct platemark. Minor defects, otherwise in excellent condition.

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