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Etching, 43 x 81 mm. Van Gelder 3.
Dirk van Gelder only mentions this impression, which he describes from a photograph in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Only known impression of this print.
Impression on heavy laid paper. A small abrasion in the bottom right corner. The upper corners are truncated, as is sometimes the case with impressions of Bresdin’s early prints. Mounted at the left edge on a sheet of wove paper bearing in the lower right corner Pierre Alexandre Regnault’s stamp printed in burgundy (Lugt 2069a) together with annotations written by him in pencil: adoration des Mages Rod. Bresdin and Acheté de Paul Bresdin Nice 6/5 – 29 and his signature P A R.
Provenance: Paul Bresdin, son of Rodolphe. Sold by him in May 1929 as part of an important group of prints and drawings by Rodolphe Bresdin to Pierre Alexandre Regnault (1868-1954), a Dutch industrialist. Regnault lived in Laren, the Netherlands, as did another Bresdin enthusiast, Nicolaas Sax. Part of his collection of modern paintings, drawings and prints was sold at Paul Brandt’s in Amsterdam on 15-17 November 1949. Dirk van Gelder states that The Adoration of the Magi was bought at this sale by Mr. van der Linden. Prints and drawings by Bresdin from the collection of Pierre Alexandre Regnault are now in public collections, including the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Hague), the Art Institute of Chicago and the Fogg Museum (Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge).
Rodolphe Bresdin was only sixteen years old when he began to engrave in 1838. The Adoration of the Magi is one of his earliest works, most of which are undated and unsigned, and are small or very small in size (some measuring only 40 x 40 mm). These early prints are often only known in one or two copies. Their technique is still imperfect and their inspiration varied. Dirk van Gelder sees in The Adoration of the Magi an Italian influence and a style that is unusual for Bresdin. The nervous hatching and the confused composition are nevertheless quite characteristic of the young engraver’s early work.
The religious theme is central to Bresdin’s work. Maxime Préaud observes that “about one fifth of Bresdin’s engraved and lithographed work, not to mention numerous drawings, is devoted to religious subjects”. He points out that “of these thirty or so pieces, seventeen are devoted to representations of the Holy Family, in various forms (Adoration of the Shepherds or the Magi, Flight to Egypt, etc.)”. And he notes that the Holy Family was already part of the subjects treated by the young adolescent when he leaved his family: “without falling into easy psychology, we can think that, as a child left to his own devices, he had a desire for family. When he founded his own, he took great care to provide for them, and it was especially for his wife, his daughters and his sons that he solicited the resources of his friends.” (Préaud, pp. 83-84).
References: Dirk Van Gelder: Rodolphe Bresdin, Monographie en trois parties and Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre gravé, 1976; Maxime Préaud: Rodolphe Bresdin, 1822-1885 : Robinson graveur, 2000.