CLAUDE GELLÉE (Called LE LORRAIN)
Le pont du bois – Rebecca and Eliezer
10.6 x 17.2 cm (4 ¹/₈ x 6 ³/₄ inches)
Robert-Dumesnil 14/II (of III); Blum 33/III (of IV); Russel 46/III (of V); Mannocci 38/V (of VII)
Neville D. Goldsmid (Lugt 1962)
A. H. Hachette (Lugt 132)
A magnificent, deep black impression. Prior to the later notation “N44.p.6” along the lower edge. Distinct down to the smallest details, at the same time subtly nuanced and of the most exquisite transparency.
With 2-3 mm paper margins around the visually effective, deeply imprinted plate mark. Characterized by pristine freshness.
This pastoral, with its uncommonly dense atmosphere, has always borne the descriptive title Le pont du bois, a reference to the central motif of this landscape composition. As first pointed out by Roethlisberger with reference to the painted version in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, the figural group that enlivens the light-flooded landscape, seemingly only incidentally, actually illustrates an episode narrated in Genesis 24, where Eliezer approaches Rebekah on behalf of Abraham’s son Isaac.
In both the painting, executed for Cardinal Giorio, and in the present etching, Claude Lorrain chose to depict not the more frequently depicted scene of Eliezer and Rebecca at the well, but instead the moment – set at the base of the small wooden bridge in the picture’s middle ground – when Rebecca's father Bethuel bids farewell as the pair departs for Canaan. Clearly, Claude is more concerned here with the atmospheric landscape than with the biblical narrative. The bridge that gives the etching its title, however, is a motif traditionally associated with travel to a foreign land… (M. Sonnabend)