A painting by Claude Deruet in Montivilliers (France)


Founded in 684 by Saint Philibert (who also started Jumièges), the Benedictine abbey for women in Montiviliers near Le Havre owns an interesting art collection, mostly seventeenth century, with works painted for it (Sacquespée, La Court) or donated by abbesses or relatives (a very beautiful Descent from the Cross offered in 1646 by the maréchale de l’ Hôpital, sister-in-law of the Abbess Louis de l’Hôpital).

1. Claude Deruet (1588-1660)
Huile sur toile - 40 x 26,5 cm
Bruxelles, Montivilliers, Abbaye

1. Claude Deruet (1588-1660)
Christ of Pity
Engraving - Size unknown
Bruxelles, Bibliothèque Royale

During the nineteenth century, a local painter Benjamin Bonvoisin, who was also a generous donator to the Musée du Havre, turned over a painting with a surprising attribution to Tinti, a Holy Family by Luca Cambiaso. Other, no less interesting, works seem to be anonymous : this is the case for the very spectacular Christ of Pity that can be ascribed without any doubt to the artist from Lorraine, Claude Deruet (1588-1660). The composition is familiar thanks to an engraving held at the Bibliothèque royale in Brussels (ill. 2), which reproduces it in the opposite direction, with the mention Claude Deruet f. Jean-Claude Boyer has pointed out the closeness of this print to a painting described in the inventory drawn up after the artist’s death : “A God of pity sitting on a rock and leaning on a Cross, estimated at one hundred francs”, 7 by 4 feet. The painting in Montivilliers, very dark due to the oxydized varnishes, is of high enough quality to be considered an original (a cleaning test on Christ’s right hand shows a good idea of this).

With clogs or without, the road to Deruet takes you through Normandy…


Jean-Christophe Baudequin, lundi 10 décembre 2007



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