Lot 54
  • 54

Philippe de Champaigne

50,000 - 70,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Philippe de Champaigne
  • The Virgin with the swaddled Child
  • Oil on panel
    Bears on its back the panel maker's mark MB for Melchior de Bouts


Collection du cabinet de Pajou according to Bernard Dorival ;
Probably Sale d'Orsay, Paris, 14 April 1790, "Tableau 12 x 10 pouces" ;
Probably Sale Saint-Victor, Paris, 26 November 1822, n°60 "Bois, 13 x 10 pouces" ;
Probably Sale Silber, Paris, 30 November 1830, n°142 "Bois 12 pouces x 10 pouces" ;
Probably Sale Silber, 26 February 1848, n°28 where was also sold with "le dessin original"
Private collection in Toulouse (France) since the beginning of the XXth century ;
Thence by family descent to the present owner


Probabably B. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne 1602-1674, vol. II, Paris, 1976, p. 144


A l'oeil nu : le tableau apparaît dans un état de conservation satisfaisant. Il est peint sur un panneau préparé d'une couche blanche à l'arrière. Le panneau est constitué d'une planche, non parquetée. Il est très légèrement cintré sur le bord droit. La peinture est parfaitement stable et on ne remarque aucun soulèvement de matière. Le tableau a fait l'objet d'un nettoyage récent et les petites zones blanches visibles sur la photographie du catalogue sont des anciennes restaurations qui ont été dégagées en même temps que l'ancien vernis et qui n'ont pas été réintégrée. La matière picturale est très belle et bien transparente. Un petit éclat de panneau dans l'extrême coin supérieur droit. A la lampe UV : on ne remarque aucune restauration. To the naked eye, the painting is in a satisfying condition. It is painted over a white preparation. The panel is made of one uncradled board. It is slightly curved along the right edge. The painting is perfectly stable and we cannot see any lift of painting. The painting has been cleaned recently and the small lack of painting we can see on the photograph are caused by old restorations that have been removed with the old varnish. The painting surface is very beautiful and transparent. We see a small shard in the upper right corner. Under the UV light : we cannot see any restoration.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This stunning composition of The Virgin Mary with Infant Jesus is a recurring iconography in works by Philippe de Champaigne. Although the swaddled Christ image was quite popular during the 17th century and was the subject of various cults, notably that of the brotherhood of the Infant Jesus of Beaune, Champaigne is known to have depicted on diverse occasions an infant Jesus in the arms of his mother. First of all, the engraving made by Nicolas Pitau in 1659 was, according to the lettering on the engraving, executed after an artwork by Champaigne (fig.1)1. We also recognize the painter's handiwork with a preparatory drawing in sanguine, acquired by the Louvre in 1990, representing a very lively and introspective study of the main group.
The painting we present, unpublished and unknown up to now, is the only recognized painted version of this composition so far. Different art historians consulted for this subject have given diverse opinions as to the full and complete attribution to Champaigne. Some, destabilized by the format which is unusual for the artist, see a resumption by another hand from the master's circle. Others, encouraged by the vigor and the pictorial sincerity of the work, validate the person who signed it.

However, different technical elements justify to consider entirely the attribution to Philippe de Champaigne.
First, the examination of the painting shows that it was not painted as a simple copy. Apart from the many pentimenti along the drapery, this composition is in the opposite direction of the engraving and tends to prove that it was certainly realized before it, but after the preparatory drawing. Noting this essential modification of the Virgin Mary's gaze, which fixated the viewer in the Louvre's drawing, and was finally transformed by that look of humility before the Child, and hiding from the final picture. This attentive attitude would be literally taken up again in the engraving showing also a more reserved Madonna compared to Christ. Lastly, the old handwriting on the verso of the panel indicates the year of 1658 (fig. 2), one year before the engraving's publication, further supporting the hypothesis of an earlier panel and the origin of the future print.
In addition, the wood support employed bears the mark MB, typical of the panels maker, Melchior de Bout, who was active in Antwerp between 1625 and 1658 and sold his wares in Paris to various artists of the time (Lubin Baugin and Charles Le Brun in particular). There is also another work by Philippe de Champaigne, The Holy Face, which was recently part of a private collection2, with the same dimensions as our Virgin Mary with Infant Jesus, which was also painted on a support by this craftsman.
Finally, Bernard Dorival in his catalogue raisonné on Champaigne specifies three mentions of a panel of this subject of comparable size which were featured in past auctions and attested for him the existence of a painted original.

1. La lettre de la gravure précise en effet « Phils de Champagne Pingebat », cf. B. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne 1602-1674, vol. II, Paris, 1976, p. 144
2. Philippe de Champaigne, La Sainte Face, huile sur panneau, portant la marque MB, 36 x 28 cm, collection particulière, reproduit dans Philippe de Champaigne, entre politique et dévotion, cat. Exp. Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, Musée Rath Genève, 2007, p. 98, n°9.
3. B. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne 1602-1674, vol. II, Paris, 1976, p. 145.