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Friday 13 September 2019

Madeleine Horthemels' engraving (with etching), “St Philip Baptising the Eunuch of Queen Candace”, c1730

Madeleine Horthemels (aka Louise Madeleine Horthemels; Louise Magdeleine Cochin; Magdalena Horthemels) (1686–1767)

“St Philip Baptising the Eunuch of Queen Candace” (aka “The Baptism of the Eunuch”; “St Philip Baptising the Ethiopian Eunuch”), c1730, after the painting (in reverse) by Nicolas Bertin (1668–1736), published with royal privilege by Charles Nicolas Cochin père (1688–1754) in Paris.

Note that Jacob Balthasar Lidel (fl.1750–60) also made an engraving in c1760 of Betin’s painting, but Lidel’s engraving has additional features at the top and sides (see cat. no. 85:

Engraving and etching on laid paper trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 38.5 x 28 cm; (image borderline) 33.9 x 26.9 cm.

Inscribed below the image borderline: (left) “Peint par Bertin”; (centre, two columns of text featuring in the left column a Latin quatrain with a French translation in the right column) “Ait Eunuchus ad Philippum: Ecce aqua, quid prohibet me baptisa-/ vi? Dixit autem Philippus: Si credis ex toto corde, licet. Et respondens/ ait: Credo, Filium Dei esse Jesum Chrislum. Et descenderunt uterque/ Philippus & Eunuchus, et baptisavit eum. Act. C. VIII. vs. 36.// …/ …/ …/ …/ … Act. Ch. VIII vs 36./ L’Un des Tableaus de la Nef de l’Eglise de l’abaȉe Roȉale de St. Germain des Prex./ AParis chez Cochin graveur du Roi rue St. Jacque[s] vis à vis les Mathurins à St Charles Avec Privilege du Roi.”; (right) “Gravé par Madeleine Cochin.”

(Quatrain translated with adjustments—my apologies if I have been too free with the translation) “The eunuch said to Philip: ‘Here is water, what prevents me from being baptised?’ And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart [that you may be baptised]’. And in response the eunuch said, ‘I believe that the Son of God is Jesus Christ’. They both went down to the water and Philip baptised him. Act. Ch. 8. Vs. 36.”

Nagler 2 (Hortemels) (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930).

Orléans Museum of Fine Arts offers a description of this print:

Condition: richly inked and well-printed early impression showing no sign of wear to the printing plate. The sheet is trimmed with a small margin around the image borderline and is laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper. The sheet is in a good condition (i.e. there are no holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing but there is a restored loss of the tip of the lower left corner).

I am selling this very beautiful engraving, featuring a seminal biblical event for the Ethiopian Catholic Church of St Philip in the act of baptising the Ethiopian eunuch of Queen Candace by pouring water from a shell onto the eunuch’s head—I initially believed that Queen Candace was shown in the background seated in a camel driven chariot until I made a close examination of her face and found an inconvenient moustache—for [deleted] 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 visually arresting engraving exemplifying the theatricality of the Baroque period, 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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