A landscape by Philippe de Champaigne acquired by Lille

Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)
Classical Landscape
Oil on canvas - 33.5 x 66.5 cm
Lille, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Tajan

11/8/08 — Acquisition — Lille, Musee des Beaux-Arts — In a recent article devoted to 17th and 18th century French paintings (see news item of 17/6/08), we offered a reproduction of an unpublished landscape by Philippe de Champaigne presented by Tajan (ill.). At the auction, on 26 June 2008, the canvas was preempted for 96,660 euros (including charges) by the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lille who had organized a retrospective on the artist not long ago (see article).

The painting reveals the same blue shades often found in Champaigne’s landscapes. The whole right side might be compared to that of Christ Healing the Blind held in San Diego, at the Timken Art Gallery, which had been included in the 2007 exhibition. The absence of a real subject other than a view is rare for the artist : only two male figures can be seen, one leaning on a tree trunk, the other sitting, deep in conversation. The manner in which these figures are painted is in itself very different from anything usually found in Champaigne’s work, evoking rather a more realist Flemish or Dutch brush. Is there any chance that these human figures could have been executed by another painter as often happened in the 17th century (a practice which was not however known in Champaigne’s production until now) ? What might be a possible date for this work in the artist’s career ? All of these questions will no doubt find an answer once the painting has been published by the museum.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 13 août 2008

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