Offered by Franck Baptiste Provence
French Regional and Parisian furniture
Les Larmes de St Pierre, French School of the 18th century after Guido Reni
Important oval-shaped oil on canvas representing the tears of St Peter *.
Recognizable by his slightly curly hair surrounding his tonsure which recalls that he was the first of the Christian priests, he is dressed in his ocher-colored pallium (large woolly coat) slipped over a blue garment.
He is represented with his hands joined in a position of penance.
This position, just like the tears in his eyes and his gaze towards the sky, symbolize his repentance for having denied Christ.
Canvas, stretcher and original frame in gilded oak wood.
Small usual restorations.
Perfect state of conservation, French work around 1700 after the St Pierre by Guido Reni kept at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
Although we cannot attribute it with certainty, our work is similar to the St Pierre painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1702 and kept at the Rigaud museum in Perpignan.* (Inv 96-1-1)
Canvas: Height: 90 cm; Width: 80cm
Frame: Height: 110 cm, Width: 100 cm
*In the 17th century, we are in the midst of a war of religions between Protestants and Catholics. One of the main discords is that of the Sacrament. Protestants reject the Sacrament of Penance and end up giving the Sacrament of the Eucharist only a symbolic value. Deeming confession useless, he considered baptism as a true Sacrament of Penance, so the sinner was forgiven by the very act of his baptism. According to a commentary by St Ambrose, Bellarmine taught that the tears of St Peter, despairing of having denied his master three times, was a picture of confession, but Protestants objected that he had not confessed his fault to Jesus Christ since the latter already knew her and had to expiate her only with her tears. Saint Pierre then took the resolution not to fish anymore.
Catholic theologians established by many arguments the necessity of confession, thus explaining the need for artists to represent confession in the guise of Saint Peter.
The repentance of Saint Peter therefore becomes, for Christian piety, a subject of meditation. It was said that Saint Peter had wept over his fault all the days of his life, continually having “bloodshot eyes”. It was added that at night, as soon as he heard the field of the rooster, he got up to shed tears. The sermonaries celebrated his penance and the poets sang about it. Trosillo in Italy and Malherbe in France wrote about the Tears of Saint Peter.
This explains why artists so often represented the repentance of Saint Peter at the end of the 16th century.
Our opinion :
The painting that we present is undeniably inspired by the tears of St Peter painted in 1657 by Guido Reni, and which is now kept at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
But we do not find the same colors of the flesh and the fabrics, nor the same emaciated face or the wrinkles present on the hands of the version of the Italian painter.
On the other hand, our portrait is very close to the one painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud which is kept in the museum of Perpignan (inv 96-1-1).
Indeed the colors are identical and as in our portrait the hands are juvenile, which is a rather disturbing element, which directs us to the great master.
The original frame, with its oak wood, is also characteristic of Parisian productions during the reign of Louis XIV.
We know that Rigaud particularly admired Guido Reni, to the point of personally owning a few paintings by the great master.
It is a fact little known to the general public but Hyacinthe Rigaud made in the 1700s some rare copies of the works of Guido Reni, in particular of the apostles like St André, St Paul or St Pierre mentioned in the old inventories as half-figure format .
With his exceptional talent, he managed to give grandiose expressions to the apostles and warmer colors, which allows him to differentiate himself from the original.
These replicas, the exact number of which we do not know, were not intended for sale but for religious brotherhoods and probably also for friends of the painter.
Let us add to this that at that time the original canvas by Guido Reni belonged to Ambroise Croizat and was exhibited in his private mansion on Place Vendôme, which probably allowed our painter to admire and copy it.