Claude Vignon - The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence

Claude Vignon - The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence - image-1
Claude Vignon - The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence - image-2
Claude Vignon - The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence - image-1Claude Vignon - The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence - image-2

Claude Vignon

The Martyrdom of Saint Laurence

Oil on panel. 28 x 43 cm.

This crowded composition depicts the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence. The saint is shown in the centre right of the composition, lain on the griddle upon which he is to be martyred. He sits up and looks back whilst one soldier attempts to push him down and two others light the fire beneath him. Emperor Valerian, who sentenced the saint to death, is depicted enthroned among his retinue on the right edge of the image. An angel approaches from heaven to present Saint Lawrence with his martyr's palm, and the round building and statue in the background of the work illustrate the story's setting in ancient Rome.
Paola Pacht Bassani confirmed this small-format work by Claude Vignon to be an original in a letter to the current owner from 7.12.1998. It can be brought into connection with an etching by this artist from 1627 depicting the same composition (cf. illus. 1). The etching is among the finest works produced by the peintre-graveur Vignon, and Mariette rightfully described it as “une des meilleures choses de Vignon”. The significance of this composition for the artist is further underlined by the personal, almost intimate, dedication of the etching to his friend François Langlois, who Vignon met in Italy (and who Antonis van Dyck once painted in the guise of a shepherd playing the bagpipes): “Al Carissmo et vero Amico il Sig. Francesco Langlese, detto il Ciatres. dedico il mie opere et il mio cuore”.
Today, we cannot prove the existence of either a larger version of this composition or a drawing upon which the etching was based, as if such works existed, they both now appear to be lost. However, the present work does not seem to have been painted after the engraving as a “riccordo”. Nor is it a “bozetto”, intended as a small compositional sketch for a larger work, as the technical quality of the painting is much too high. All of the figures - not only those of the protagonists Lawrence and Valerian - are finely and carefully painted, as are details such as the reflections on the metal of the griddle, and the colours are finely applied and shaded. These factors all indicate that Claude Vignon created this small panel as an autonomous piece.


Private ownership, Switzerland.


Sceaux, Musée de l’Île-de-France, 2007/2008, no. 15c

Lot 1048 Nα

8.000 € - 12.000 €