36 East 73rd Street New York City, NY 10021 , United States Call Seller 212.517.9176


Mythological figures in mountainous landscape

$ 12,000
  • Description
    An accomplished draftsman who was heavily indebted to the Italian masters, Valentin Lefèbvre, is a mysterious character. He is believed to have been born in Belgium in about 1642, and died in either 1680 or 1682. However, Mariette recorded the artist’s death in Venice in the first year of the eighteenth century (see P.J. Mariette, Abecendario, III, Paris, 1854-1856, pp. 115-118). Previously confused with both Claude Lefèvre and Roland Lefèvre, the work of Valentin Lefèbvre is equally undocumented, as none of his paintings or drawings are signed or dated. Valentin’s early artistic training in Brussels is unrecorded, but he is known to have studied in Venice with Francesco Ruschi before the latter’s death in 1661. A religious painter and draftsman, who worked throughout the Veneto, Ruschi taught his pupil the art of engraving and exposed him to the work of the great Italian masters. Lefèbvre especially admired the paintings of Titian and Veronese, whose Supper in the House of Simon he copied in 1664 after the Venetian Republic gave the original to Louis XIV. The work of the Roman classicists, in particular Pietro da Cortona, was also enormously influential on his artistry. Between 1663 and 1668, he worked with Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi on the decoration of San Giorgio Maggiore in a style clearly derived from da Cortona. In synthesizing these traditions, Lefèbvre created a refined yet contrived style, with which he painted, drew and engraved many works of historical, mythological and religious subject. For some, he directly copied the compositions of the old masters, but, in most, he used this stylistic blend with great originality. In 1680, a selection of his engravings was published in Venice as Opera Selectiore quae Titanus Cadubiensis et Paulus Caliari Veronensis inventaveront, ac pinxerunt, quaeque Valentinus le Febre Bruxellensis delinearit et sculpsit, (see A. Czere, “Valentin Lefèbre dans le sphère d’attraction des arts vénitien et romain,” Bulletin du musée hongrois des Beaux Arts, 1993, no. 79, p. 25). As stated in the title of the corpus, several plates were based upon works by Titian and Veronese, while others were inspired by or directly copied from paintings by the Carracci, da Cortona and Lanfranco.
    Usually large in scale and highly finished, Lefèbvre’s drawings are the most interesting and original part of his oeuvre. Working in a purposefully anachronistic style, his drawings juxtapose aspects of Venetian naturalism and Roman classicism to create a highly mannered hybrid. This sheet, which represents a mythological scene with three women and an elderly man seeking counsel from Minerva, is a fine example of Lefèbvre’s idiosyncratic style. The symmetry, accentuation of line and elongation of bodies with small heads belie his debt to da Cortona, while the accumulation of figures, parallel composition and naturalistic handling of the trees appear to be reliant upon Titian and Veronese. The dense massing of clouds with tumbling putti and the tiny playful dog are also signature motifs of the artist (see U. Ruggeri, “Drawings by Valentin Lefèvre,” Master Drawings, vol. 26, 1988, pl. 31).
  • More Information
    Documentation: Ample Provenance
    Notes: Provenance: Charles F. Ramus, Denver, circa 1938
    Exhibited: Denver Museum of Art (L.49.136), 1949
    Period: Pre 18th Century
    Materials: Pen and brown ink with gray wash on two joined sheets of cream laid paper
    Condition: Good.
    Creation Date: 1642-1682
    Styles / Movements: Other
    Incollect Reference #: 305068
  • Dimensions
    W. 11.5 in; H. 15.5 in;
    W. 29.21 cm; H. 39.37 cm;
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