Sainte Famille avec saint Jean l’Évangéliste, sainte Catherine et un ange – The Holy Family with Saint Catherine, Saint John, and an Angel
etching; 271 x 189 mm (10 11/16 x 7 7/16 inches)
Robert-Dumesnil 11; Walch 15 first state (of two); Worthen/Reed 20; Griffiths/Hartley 5 (this impression); Thuilliers 26
grapes (Griffiths/Hartley 1)
before the addition of Le Blond’s address
Griffiths and Hartley place this painterly print, highly influenced by the etchings of Parmigianino and his followers, relatively early in Bellange’s etched work, citing its similarity to the artist’s Holy Family with Mary Magdalene and St. Anne (rejected by Walch, pp. 214–217). They suggest that in both of these prints the artist is still very much experimenting with the technique, here “treated essentially as a draughtsman’s medium” with the etching needle handled in the bold and direct manner of a pen. In this print, though, the modeling of the forms point to a certain refinement of this approach, characterized by finer stippling, “producing a smoother sfumato shading on the flesh, and, instead of contours reinforced with an engraving tool, the darker lines have been produced by etching them for longer in the acid.” Fine lines visible below the cross-hatching also indicate that the dense shading was built up with several immersions in the acid.