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Sébastien Bourdon

(1616 Montpellier - 1671 Paris)

La Vierge sur une arche souterraine (The Holy Family with the Infant John the Baptist in Front of an Ancient Architectural Backdrop). Etching. 19.5 x 28.3 cm. Robert-Dumesnil 3 before I (of II); not included in the Inventaire du Fonds Français; Thuillier 112. Watermark: Grape.

After completing his training the painter and etcher, Sébastien Bourdon, settled in 1636 in Rome, where he worked inter alia as a copier, which enabled him to absorb a variety of different styles. After returning to Paris Bourdon was initially successful as a self-employed painter in the 1640s and was awarded significant commissions. He was a founding member of the Académie Royale in the French capital, where he concentrated on etching to make himself better known. Bourdon produced some fifty etchings which are distinguished by their masterful and concise technical treatment.

The print on offer here, which Robert-Dumesnil described as a “pièce faussement attribuée”, is now regarded as being by the artist’s own hand and is of excellent quality. The classical nature and grandeur of this fine, harmonious composition demonstrate the extent to which Bourdon was inspired by such outstanding Bolognese masters as Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni, whose works he studied in detail during his stay in Rome. This is a rare early impression before the address of Mariette and with the artist’s name in very slender script on the right. A superb, even and tonal impression with fine, even thread margins.

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