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The Holy Family With A Sparrow
By Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674)
Oil and gold on panel laid down on board
Size: 24.7 x 19 centimetres (9.75 x 7.5 inches)
Estimated Price: $200,000-300,000

The Flemish-born painter Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674), was the leading French portrait painter during the reign of Louis XIII. This oil painting, The Holy Family with a Sparrow, was only recently identified as a work by his hand. It is based on a drawing by Raphael – to whom the painting had long been attributed – depicting the Virgin and Child with St Elizabeth and St John. Champaigne studied the drawing when it was part of a collection belonging to the Parisian banker, Everhard Jabach. It is possible that Raphael never developed the sketch himself, but Champaigne built on the simple brush and wash, adding a complete background landscape for his interpretation of the drawing.

Champaigne was heavily influenced by Raphael’s work, and in an address in 1669, referred to him as a “wise and judicious painter”. The ability to render subtle expression and attitude in subjects’ faces was a skill he greatly admired in Raphael. The present work is recorded in the inventory of Champaigne’s estate, drawn up soon after the artist passed away in 1674.

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 27, 2012.