February 23, 2021 12:00 EDT

European Art & Old Master Paintings

 
 

16

Valentin de Boulogne (French, 1591–1632)
Étude pour Le Martyre de Saint Procès et Saint Martinien

Oil on canvas
24 1/2 x 15 in. (62.2 x 38.1cm)
Unframed.

Provenance

Private Collection, New York, New York.

Sold for $78,750
Estimated at $20,000 - $30,000


 

Oil on canvas
24 1/2 x 15 in. (62.2 x 38.1cm)
Unframed.

Provenance

Private Collection, New York, New York.

Note

The present work will be accompanied by a copy of a letter signed by Gianni Papi dated May 18, 2015, in which he confirms the authenticity of this newly-rediscovered work by the artist. In his letter, Papi writes: "In this remarkable painting, unrecorded and whose existence was unsuspected, we must recognize a sketch that Valentin made for his patron, as well as protector, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, for the altarpiece of the same subject," which the powerful cardinal commissioned to the French painter in May, 1629 for Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome. As Papi explains, such sketches (or bozzetti) were not only common practice at the time, but necessary in elaborating the final design the artists conceived in their mind, and which they needed to share with their patrons before execution. At first, the completion of the altarpiece commemorating Saint Martinian and Saint Processus had been assigned to Francesco Albani, but upon the recommendation of Cardinal Barberini, Valentin eventually was the one to receive the prestigious commission. The present work is the only known bozzetto attributed to Valentin de Boulogne, and is important in understanding the artist's thought process as it reveals one significant pentimento (artist's correction) that differs from the work's final state, namely: the attitude of the veiled female figure at the extreme left, whose face is constricted in pure dolor as exemplified by the open mouth and the shed tears, as opposed to the serene, and resigned expression which she adopts on the final version. It is possible this subtle change in attitude, important to the overall harmony of the composition, may have been requested by the cardinal himself. Papi notes other subtle, and minor variations between the two works such as the angle at which the soldier with the helmet (in the background, bottom right) turns his head, the transparency of the floating sash enveloping the flying angel, as well as the detail of the two astonished heads above the second martyr in the shadows.

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