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Monday 17 October 2016

Pierre Lélu’s etching, “The massacre of the innocents” after Raphael

Pierre Lélu (1741-1810)
“The massacre of the innocents”, 1793, after Raphael (Italian, 1483–1520) 
Etching with engraving on wove paper, signed and dated in the plate (lower right).
Size: (sheet) 34.9 x 51 cm; (plate) 28.8 x 42.2 cm; (image borderline) 26.9 x 41.8 cm

Condition: crisp impression in almost pristine condition for its age (i.e. there are no significant stains, tears, abrasions, holes, losses or foxing) with large margins.

I am selling this large and important etching after Raphael’s design for the total cost of AU$316 (currently US$240.31/EUR218.51/GBP197.31 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this important and sensitively executed etching, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Before entering into a discussion about Lélu’s print executed in 1793, I need to point out that Raphael did not create a painting titled “The massacre of the innocents.” Instead, Raphael planned that his design would be executed in collaboration with Marcantonio Raimondi as an engraving. I also need to mention that after Raimondi completed his collaboratively designed engraving, he executed a second version of the print, presumably for monetary gain. The key difference between the two versions is, as Martin Clayton (1999) in “Raphael and his Circle: Drawings from the Windsor Castle” clarifies: “the presence or absence of a fir tree in the right distance” (p. 80).

Mindful that there are two engraved versions by Ramondi of the terrible biblical infanticide massacre ordered by Herod the Great of all young males in the vicinity of Bethlehem, what makes Lélu’s etching interesting is that he has reproduced the first version—Raphael’s original conception for the print with the fir tree—rather than Ramondi’s second version without it. Having said this, however, Lélu has employed great artistic license in his translation of the first version as there are other subtle differences separating the prints. Going further, Lélu’s print not only exhibits differences with the first version, his print is different to all the earlier versions. For example, all of the earlier versions show the tower of the building on the far left with a pyramidal shaped roof, whereas in Lélu’s print the tower is roofless and with a crenulated parapet. Moreover, Lélu has removed the foliage mass of trees shown above the signature tablet on the left edge in both the earlier versions. In short, Lélu may have made a graphic translation of Raphael’s design but his print is also is many ways a unique design in itself.

(Note: the different versions of Marcantonio Raimondi’s engraving may be seen in Walter L Strauss (gen. ed.) 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch”, Vol. 26 pp. 29–33.)

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