• Album from the collection in the studio of Jean de Saint-Igny (according to Jacques Thuillier)
• Collection of Sir James Tylney (Tilney) Long (1736-1894), 7th Baronet, Wanstead House, Essex, Great Britain, and then his descendants
• Collection of Reverend Geoffrey S. Bennett (1902-1991), Carlisle, Cumbria.
• Sale, Christie’s, London, March 26th, 1974, lot 109 (known as Bellange).
• Mme Orey Collection, New York.
• Bought in 1988 by Jan Krugier (1928 – 2008) and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski (b. 1931)
• Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, Geneva, inv. JK 4081, until 2015.
2000, Madrid, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, Madrid, 2000, p. 122, no 45, reproduced in color, p. 123 (as Jacques de Bellange).
In 1927, the art historian Pierre Lavallée attributed a sanguine depicting an Allegory of the Sense of Smell to Jacques de Bellange. The drawing had just entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris as part of the Jean Masson collection. Starting in the next decade, the same artist’s name was connected with two Imaginary Heads in the Rennes Museum, and then to about forty other similar drawings, including an old posthumous album with fourteen drawings, formerly in the collection of Sir James Tylney Long from which our drawing also comes. Despite similarity with Bellange’s luxurious exuberant Mannerism, these little “portraits” of elegantly attired young men and women presented nonetheless marked differences with the latter’s engravings and don’t appear in any of the Lorraine master’s oeuvres. The mystery was resolved by Pierre Rosenberg when he managed to read, “sainct ygny ft” on a Kneeling Man in sanguine which was undisputedly by the same hand and exhibited for the first time in 1981 (Germany, private collection). Since then, the group of drawings was taken from Bellange to constitute a new corpus, that of the Norman painter, draughtsman, and engraver, Jean de Saint Igny.
Born in the last years of the 16th century, son of a master cabinet maker, Jean de Saint-Igny began his apprenticeship in his native city of Rouen in 1614. Still in Rouen in 1620, he later left for the capital where his name is mentioned as of 1628 as a master painter in Faubourg Saint-Germain-des-Près. He lived on rue Saint-Germain, “in a house where the sign of The Grand Turk hung.” In Paris, the young artist frequented famous painters, such as Georges Lallemant, Claude Vignon, and Quentin Varin, and received prestigious commissions, including the first one starting in 1629 concerning the decoration of the Chapel of Our Lady in the Convent of the Petits-Augustins. For all that, Saint-Igny never ruptured his attachment with Rouen: in 1631, he participated in the founding of Saint Luke’s Guild in that city and was elected master in 1635. His artistic activity in the 1630’s was split between painting commissions for churches in the capital and in Normandy, and his important role as a draughtsman for publications. Two collections of engravings after his imaginative works appeared starting in 1629: Le Théâtre de France contenant la diversitez des habits selon les qualitez et conditions de personnes, engraved by Isaac Briot and the Jardin de la noblesse françoise dans lequel ce peut ceuillir leur manière de Vettements, engraved by Abraham Bosse.
The following year, the artist obtained the King’s Privilege for his book, the Elemens de pourtraiture ou La methode de representer & pourtraire toutes les parties du corps humain, for which he himself was both the engraver and publisher. This veritable treatise was accompanied by illustrations and followed by two series of plates representing half-figures of men and women elegantly dressed in diverse poses, along with anatomies situated in landscapes. Still in 1630, Saint-Igny brought out The Diversitez d’habillemens à la mode, and then the Noblesse françoise à l’église. He seems then to have definitively withdrawn to Rouen where he died in 1647.
Most of Saint-Igny’s refined and gracious “portraits” in sanguine date to the period of the Elemens de Pourtraiture, because although none seem to have served as preparatory drawings to the engravings in the treatise, they share the same presentation. Our drawing thus perfectly illustrates the passage which aimed to “easily teach the art of Portraiture to those who have no knowledge of it” in which he writes “the forth |natural situation of the head] is ‘deflected’ which is a position of the head seen between the profile and the front or between the profile and the reverse.” (p. 7)
The artist’s sanguines appear to be freehand studio works, produced in the context of preliminary cogitation to the writing of the treatise or immediately after its completion. The audacity of the poses and the foreshortening, the decorative refinement of the attire, the exacerbated sensuality of the poses and expressions make these drawings an ultimate blaze of Mannerism in France at the moment when Simon Vouet’s style became dominant. At the same time, their handling with its immense spontaneity and particularly brilliant execution seems to anticipate the great draughtsmen of the 18th century, such as Watteau or Pater. Our drawing is a remarkable example, because Saint-Igny manages to capture the essence of the figure with just a few exuberantly entangled lines. The curls of hair and ornamental elements – hat band, plume, shoulder ribbons, sword strap – are rendered with a loose combination of decorative flicks of the wrist, twists, undulations, overlaps, and spirals to suggest rather than reproduce the richness and variety of forms. The tight and blended hatching of sanguine mixed with gum Arabic emphasizes the borders of the slashed hat, while the fine geometric and skillful line traces the contours of the face without being the least disturbed by the complexity of the foreshortening.
Christopher Duran COMER, Studies in Lorraine Art, ca. 1580- ca. 1625, Ph.D. Dissertation, Princeton University (microfilm reproduction by University Microfilms International), p. 262, n° 87 (as Jacques de Bellange).
Alexander DOCKERS (dir.), Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, exhibition catalogue, Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 1999, p. 395, reproduced (as Jacques de Bellange).
Alexander DOCKERS (dir.), The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection, exh. cat. Berlin 1999, p. 396, reproduced (as Jacques de Bellange).
Jacques THUILLIER, Jacques de Bellange, exhibition catalogue, Rennes Museum of Fine Arts, Rennes 2001, p. 323 (as Jean de Saint-Igny).
Thomas CARINO, Le Peintre-graveur Jean de Saint-Igny, Ph. D. Thesis, University of Paris IV-Sorbonne, 1999.
Charles-Philippe de CHENNEVIERES, Recherches sur la vie et les ouvrages de quelques peintres provinciaux de l’ancienne France, Paris, Dumoulin, 1847.
Jules HEDOU, Jean de Saint-Igny, peintre, sculpteur et graveur rouennais, Paris, Librairie ancienne et moderne, E. Augé, 1887, 54 pp.
Emmanuelle BRUGEROLLES (dir.), Le Dessin en France au XVIIe siècle dans les collections de l’École des Beaux-Arts, exhibition catalogue, Paris, Geneva, New York, 2001, pp. 80-92.