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Sunday 26 February 2023

Comte de Caylus & Nicolas Le Sueur’s etching and chiaroscuro woodcut, “The Virgin Accompanied by Saints”, c1729, after Pietro Antonio de' Pietri

Anne Claude Philippe de Tubières, Comte de Caylus (1692–1765) (etching component) in collaboration with Nicolas Le Sueur (1690–1764) (woodcut component)

“The Virgin Accompanied by Saints” (aka “La Ste. Vierge Accompagnée de Pusieurs Saints”), c1729, plate 135 from the series, “Recueil d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et d'après les plus beaux desseins qui sont en France” (Collection of prints from the most beautiful paintings and from the most beautiful designs that are in France) (aka “Recueil Crozat”; “Cabinet Crozat”), after a drawing by Pietro Antonio de' Pietri (aka Pietro de Pietri; Pierre de Pietri) (1663/5-1716).

This is a rare early impression before the woodcut component was replaced by aquatint when published by François Basan (1723–1797) in 1764. The British Museum holds a later impression where an aquatint plate is employed to imitate the woodcut plate:

Regarding the publication of the series, “Recueil Crozat”, the Curator of the British Museum offers the following insights: “… a series of plates commissioned by Crozat [Pierre Crozat (1665–1740)] … reproducing famous paintings and drawings of the era; 140 plates were published in 1729. A second volume formed by 42 prints (instead of the 110 plates initially planned) was issued in 1740.

After Crozat's death, the plates were sold to a company of booksellers who commissioned Mariette to reorganize the 'Recueil'; Mariette divided the plates into two volumes, added some missing descriptions, and advertised the set to the public in 1742.

In 1764, Basan [François Basan (1723–1797)] bought the plates and the text, and republished the 'Recueil', but replaced the woodcuts by intaglio prints. … where an attempt to imitate the effect of a chiaroscuro woodcut is made by using aquatint instead …” (

Etching and chiaroscuro woodcut printed in black (etching component) and two shades of blue (woodcut component) on heavy laid paper with wide margins.

Size: (sheet) 54.6 x 40.7 cm; (plate) 41.9 x 24.2 cm; (image borderline) 37.8 x 22.7 cm.

Lettered in plate below the image borderline: (centre) “La Ste. Vierge accompagnée de pusieurs Saints./ Dessein de Pierre de Pietri, qui est dans le Cabinet de Mr. Crozat/ Gravé à l’eau forte par Mr. le C… de c., et en bois sous sa conduit par Nicolas le Sueur.”; (right) “135”.

Le Blanc 9 (Charles Le Blanc 1854-1888, “Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes: contenant le dictionnaire des graveurs de toutes les nations” [4 vols.], Paris, p. 543, cat. no. 9); IFF 370 (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “The Virgin and child with saints; the Virgin and Child sit on a pedestal at centre, at right a monk approaches and offers a flower, behind him stand a female figure carrying a vase, and a bearded man; in the foreground, to the right, a bearded saint carrying a book kneels before the Virgin, and at left St Lawrence stands with his hand resting on the gridiron; after a drawing by Pietri. c.1729 Etching and chiaroscuro woodcut printed in two shades of blue” (

Condition: a strong and well-printed impression in excellent (near pristine) condition with no tears, holes, folds, losses, abrasions, significant stains or foxing.

I am selling this curiosity of a composite print employing etching and chiaroscuro woodcut (i.e., a woodcut involving more than one tone of a colour) for AU$319 (currently US$214.61/EUR203.47/GBP179.72 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

If you are interested in purchasing this early impression of a technically important print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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