The Louvre Makes Two Purchases at the Salon du Dessin

Jacob Matham (1571-1631)
Martyrdom of a Saint
Sanguine, black chalk,
heightened with white - 32.7 x 26.6 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Jean-Luc Baroni

4/4/14 - Acquisitions - Paris, Musée du Louvre - Definitely active at the auctions held during the Semaine du Dessin, the Département des Arts Graphiques at the Louvre also made two purchases at the Salon du Dessin.

The first drawing (ill. 1) was acquired at Jean-Luc Baroni’s. It is by Jacob Matham, a Haarlem artist and son-in-law of Hendrick Goltzius, representing the martyrdom of an unidentified saint who was just decapitated. A draughtsman and engraver (he transposed many of his father-in-law’s works using this technique), Matham traveled to Italy between 1593 and 1597. The sheet can be dated back to this period and shows a blend of sanguine and black chalk which is rare in Northern Europe though frequent in Italy. The first known drawings by this artist are in fact executed using this technique. The dislocation of the hips, notably in the soldier at left and the one in the foreground, holding a shield and pointing to the martyr with his finger, is typical of Mannerism. The style is quite close to Florentine art, notably that of Giovanni Biliverti. The Département des Arts Graphiques already held several prints by Matham in the Rothschild collection but only two drawings : a landscape and a religious scene, The Virgin and Child with a Saint.

Johann Esaias Nilson (1721-1788)
Nero and Seneca in a rocaille setting
Pen, India ink, grey lavis - 26.8 x 17.9 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Paul Prouté

The other sheet (ill. 2), purchased at the Paul Prouté Gallery, was published in their catalogue Architecture & Ornement which we mentioned in our review of the Salon du Dessin. This is an 18th century Augsburg drawing by Johann Esaias Nilson, an artist specialized in preparatory drawings for engravings. We see Seneca, blindfolded, his veins being opened ; this scene is framed in a rocaille setting with Neron in the foreground pointing to the philosopher whom he has pushed to commit suicide. Above the representation, the figure of Prudence [1], a stoic virtue, is holding her attributes : a mirror and a serpent. This drawing resulted in an engraving published by Johann Georg Hertel in a collection of twelve allegorical and historical scenes. Although the Edmond de Rothschild collection holds engravings by Nilson, the Louvre did not yet own any of his drawings.

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 4 avril 2014


[1] And not Justice as mistakenly stated in the entry.

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