Back to top

Pierre Brébiette

Etcher, commercial artist and painter

Born
1598 in Mantes-la-Jolie (?)
Died
before 1650 in Paris

4 Works by Pierre Brébiette

Biography

Pierre Brebiette, who enjoyed great respect during his lifetime, now tends to be ranked among the lesser masters in the realm of French printmaking. Mariette still emphasised the ingenuity of his drawings, and indeed his mythological depictions in particular, which along with religious motifs define his work, exhibit great variety and a wealth of ingenuity. Brebiette frequently adhered to classical tradition, but his terse, free rendering and occasionally highly imaginative and daring design and arrangement of figures created a kind of 'mythological capriccio', in which he neglected artistic norms and gave expression to highly personal notions. Since his sheets again and again dealt with the subject matter of the poets G. B. Marino and Louis de Neufgermain, both highly regarded in Paris - Brebiette was married to the latter's daughter - they met with a similar reception.

Important for both his craftsmanship and his thinking was an extended stay in Italy between 1607 and 1625. In Rome, Brebiette studied the Baroque monumental painting of Annibale Carracci and his immediate followers Domenichino and Lanfranco, who provided him with a solid stock of forms. In addition, he copied reliefs from ancient sarcophagi, whose rows of figures would influence his frieze-like compositions. Finally, the etchings of Antonio Tempesta and earlier Italian artists provided impulses for his own graphic realisations.

The paucity of 'correct' drawing, of which he was already accused by Mariette, is especially evident in his execution of figures. For that reason, Brebiette appears at times to be artistically more closely related to the sixteenth century than to his own.