Sunday, 7 May 2017

Pierre Subleyras’ etching, “The Brazen Serpent”, 1727


Pierre Subleyras (aka Pietro Subleyras) (1699–1749)
“The Brazen Serpent”, 1727. Note: the painting is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nîmes.

Etching on laid paper trimmed on or slightly within the platemark.
State ii (of ii?)
Size: (sheet) 19.9 x 24 cm; (image borderline) 18 x 23.4 cm
Lettered with production detail below the image borderline: (left) “Subleyras jn. pinx. et 
Inscribed in two lines: “Tabula à Petro Subleyras Parisiis depicta hic leviter adumbrata, quae primum prae= / mium in Regia Accademia meruit. anno 1727”

Duplessis 1871 2.II (Duplessis, Georges, Supplément aux dix volumes du 'Peintre-Graveur Français' [of Robert-Dumesnil], Paris, 1871); Robert-Dumesnil 1835-71 II.257.2 (Robert-Dumesnil, A P F, Le Peintre-Graveur Français, 11 vols. The last volume, by G Duplessis is cited separately as it has different numbering, Paris, 1835); Nagler 2

The British Museum offers the following description of this print (note that the impression held by the BM has the two-line inscription removed):

“Moses, standing on the left points at the brazen serpent entwined around a tree trunk; around him, several wounded; some are still fighting with snakes; with production detail and with inscription in the margin … 1727 Etching” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1544686&partId=1&searchText=Pierre+Subleyras+&page=1)

Condition: crisp impression trimmed along the platemark. The sheet is in outstanding condition (i.e. there are no tears, stains, folds, abrasions or foxing).

I am selling this masterwork showing the artist’s confidence and ease with free use of the etching needle for the total cost of AU$302 (currently US$223.24/EUR203.40/GBP172.86 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this important etching by Subleyras, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


From my understanding of the Old Testament account of what is shown in this scene, The Brazen Serpent was a bronze sculpture on a pole erected by Moses under instruction from God. According to information gleaned from the dealer from whom I bought the print, God had told Moses that this sculpture would prevent the Israelites who saw it from dying from the bites of the "fiery serpents" which God had sent to punish those who were “impatient, ungrateful and niggling during their walk through the desert after the exodus.”

In the portrayed scene, Moses is pointing to the sculpture and advising the exhausted Israelites that those bitten by the “fiery serpents”—there is one shown wrapped around the arm of the chap on the left foreground—who looked at the brazen serpent would be healed.







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