Christ in the Pillar.
Black stone and white chalk on beige paper.
Annotated at the bottom right with pen and brown ink: "S.Vouete".
Glued in full on an old mounting sheet, a few freckles.
On the back of the montage, an old pencil annotation by the Marquis de Lagoy: "Étude du Christ à la Colonne du Tableau de Le Sueur qui est au musée de Versailles"/"Eustache le Sueur".
Le Christ à la colonne, a painting in the Louvre (see W.Crelly, The paintings of Simon Vouet, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1962, n°105, repr. fig. 58).
Man tying a handful of rods, black stone and white chalk highlights, drawing for one of the executioners, kept at the Besançon Museum of Fine Arts (see Jacques Thuillier and Barbara Bréjon de Lavergnée, Vouet exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1990-91, ed. Rmn, n°102, repr. p.417).
Figure of executioner, black stone and white chalk highlights, preserved at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (see Richard Harprath, Simon Vouet, 100 Neuentdeckte Zeichnungen, 1991, München, No. 26, repr. p.94).
This splendid unpublished drawing is preparatory for the painting of the same subject in the Louvre. The safe and rapid execution shows a Christ with a powerful torso, with a repentance on the left arm which gives us an even more vivid impression of torsion. The loincloth is barely sketched, and the knees a little tighter.
Christ is embodied in a muscular body whose naturalism can be compared to the art of Carracci and even more so to Caravaggio. William Crelly had wisely indicated the proximity of Caravaggio's Flagellation of San Domenico Maggiore to Naples. It seems to us that the bust of Christ is even more similar to the bust of Christ with the Column painted by Caravaggio in Naples around 1606-07 and now kept in the Fine Arts Museum in Rouen. This painting may have belonged to Cardinal Scipio Carafelli Borghese, who had the Villa Borghese built in Rome to house his collections. It is possible that Vouet saw it in Rome at the cardinal's house, when he was staying in the Eternal City. Likewise the more venerable influence of Sebastiano del Piombo on caravaggans such as Vouet can be seen in the reminiscences of the Flagellation of the church of San Pietro di Montorio in Rome.
Vouet returned from Italy in 1628. The painting of Vouet in the Louvre is dated by Crelly around 1638, as is the preparatory drawing of Besançon, dated by Barbara Bréjon de Lavergnée towards the end of the 1630's. Whatever the date of the drawing, it still emanates strong reminiscences of Caravaggio. Vouet uses the same physical type to represent a Study for a Christ on the Cross (Kupferstichkabinett of Berlin-Dalhem) preparatory to the Crucifixion (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon) which decorated the chapel of the Hôtel Séguier, executed around 1636 (see Thuillier and Bréjon de Lavergnée, opus cited above, no. 105, repr.). In it Christ combines virile power and feminine abandonment, with this large lock of long curly hair that comes to caress the shoulder. Another drawing from the same period (opus cited above, no. 107, repr.) presents the same ancient pen inscription as in our drawing, which suggests that it corresponds to the ancient pronunciation of the name: "S. Vouete".
The painting in the Louvre, listed at the top of Vouet's works in the Inventory of the King's paintings written by Bailly in 1709 and 1710, was given to Le Sueur by Dézallier d'Argenville. Crelly returned it to Vouet in his monograph in 1962, an attribution confirmed by Pierre Rosenberg in his Inventory of Paintings in the Louvre in 1974. Alain Mérot, in his monograph on Le Sueur returns it to Vouet in 1987. Lorenzo Pericolo is inclined to attribute it to Le Brun jeune (see L. Pericolo, "A propos de l'auteur du Christ à la colonne du Louvre: Vouet, Le Sueur ou Le Brun", Revue du Louvre, Revue des musées de France, December 2001, n° 5, p.41-49); and many names of Vouet's epigones have been pronounced. The painting is currently classified as attributed to Simon Vouet and his studio.
The drawing for the squatting executioner tying a handful of yards, preparatory to the same painting, bears an ancient inscription giving it to Le Sueur. Barbara Bréjon de Lavergnée also returns it to Vouet in the Inventaire Général des dessins / École française/ Dessins de Simon Vouet published in 1987 (ed. RMN, Paris, n° LIX, p.102, repr.). In the catalogue of the 1990 Vouet exhibition, she notes that the knowledge of drawing makes it possible to lean definitively in Vouet's favour for the invention of composition, since the painting can be attributed to Vouet and his studio. As on other occasions, the manufacturing process in the workshop is a succession of stages: the master draws the composition and the figures, the workshop executes the painting. The reappearance of this magnificent dessi