“The Louvre just made a new acquisition! This small-size copper representing Judith and Holofernes will soon be in the museum. We can see on this painting a Judith who has just accomplished her mission: to decapitate Holofernes. A maid is handing her a bag to take away the head… Who could have painted this work with refined colours? 🔎 The doubt remains, and we still hesitate between Georges Lallemant and his master, Jacques de Bellange. Strong similarities can be found in the work of the two artists from Lorraine, but neither of them have paintings strictly comparable to this one…” (June 19, 2018)
The competitors: Jacques Bellange (c. 1575–1616) and Georges Lallemand (c. 1575–1636) – both of Nancy in the northeast of France, which was originally located in the Duchy of Lorraine.
Bellange was known for etchings and some drawings, which are the only verified works that survive today. These works are considered to be striking examples Northern Mannerist old master prints, described as –
… the last in a long evolution of that particular type of Mannerism in which a private mystical form of religious emotion is expressed in terms which appear at first sight to be merely those of empty aristocratic elegance. The founder of this tradition was Parmigianino, who invented many of the formulas used by his successors, such as the elongation of the figures, the small heads on long necks, the sweeping draperies, the strained, nervous poses of the hands, and the sweet ecstatic smile which those of Protestant upbringing find it hard not to think of as sickly and insincere, but which incorporates a particular kind of mystical feeling.(1)
<snort> Sir Anthony Blunt has such a way with words.
Or how about this analysis by Erica Tietze-Conrat –
The way in which the artist sees forms is strongly sexual, perversely sexual; and entirely genuine, since it mirrors the artist’s sub-conscious. Otherwise he would never have drawn Saint John in a series of Apostles in so female a fashion…The angel of the Annunciation is a hermaphrodite, but not with mixed but with marked characteristics of either sex… (2)
Not exactly flattering. Unless angels ARE meant to be impartial embodiments of both genders …
Sadly although it is recorded that Bellange painted a number of portraits, none are known to have survived and no very useful descriptions of his work exist. However, there are paintings in major museums that are attributed to him for comparison (Lamentation of Christ in the Hermitage Museum, Beggar Looking Through His Hat in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore).
In contrast, there are surviving examples of the paintings of Lallemand. HIs style is described as eclectic, combining Flemish realist and mannerist influences. There is even a possible (unflattering) self-portrait.
So which do you choose? Personally, I think an up-close inspection will be required before I can decide. Now where is that passport?
(1) Griffiths, Antony and Hartley, Craig. Jacques Bellange, c.1575-1616, Printmaker of Lorraine. British Museum Press, 1997. Sir Anthony Blunt quoted on p105.
(2) Tietze-Conrat, Erica. Der französische Kupferstich der Renaissance (The French Copperplate of the Renaissance). Munich, GR: Kurt Wolff, 1925.