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Pierre Brebiette

(1598 Mantes – 1650 Paris)

Fortuna Crowned by Jupiter, with Pluto and Neptune. Etching after Claude Vignon. 25.5 x 20.5 cm. 1624. Inventaire du Fonds Français 174, Pacht Bassani (1992), 86 G. Watermark: Fragment.

Fortuna, the bringer of luck or in this particular case the goddess of chance, dominates the image in the centre of the composition, her left foot resting on a sphere. Her eyes are covered with a cloth. With a languid, almost indifferent gesture she accepts the gifts of the gods. Jupiter descending from above gives her a crown and a laurel wreath, while an almost humble Pluto offers her a dish filled to the brim with coins and gold chains. On her right, Neptune raises his hand to present her pearls and a coral. Fortuna's blindness and the precarious balance of her pose suggest the imponderability of fate and its unpredictability as a bringer of luck or ill tidings.

Brebiette's wonderfully light and spiritually executed etching reproduces a lost painting by Claude Vignon, who was a close colleague and friend of the artist. The etching may have been done in Rome, where Brebiette lived until 1625. While still in Italy, the artist had entered into a close association with Vignon and the publisher François Langlois, known as Ciartres, which also continued after Brebiette's return to France. Brebiette and Vignon complemented and inspired each other as artists. The spiritual, very lively etching style of the former proved to be an extremely apt instrument for neatly translating the tonal values and effective chiaroscuro of Vignon's painting into the medium of printmaking.

A very fine impression with narrow margins, in an undescribed state without the address of Ciartres. Small inscription writ­ten in pen and grey ink below the foot of Fortuna “vignon”. Minor aging and traces of handling, otherwise in very good condition.

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