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A GROUP OF FORTY DRAWINGS BY BERNARD SALOMON (lots 99-116)
Bernard Salomon, called le Petit Bernard, has until now only been known through his numerous small woodcuts illustrating the Bible or literary texts such as the Metamorphosis. He was active between 1540 and 1561 in Lyon, an important Protestant publishing centre throughout the 16th Century. Pierre-Jean Mariette mentions the similarity of Salomon's style to that of Delaune: 'Luy [Delaune] et le petit Bernard dessinoient ce me semble, à peu près dans la même manière' (P. de Chennevières et A. de Montaiglon, 'Abecedario de P.J. Mariette et autres notes inédites de cet amateur sur les arts et les artistes', Archives de l'art français, III, 1854-6, p. 79).
Salomon's most important work, to which the present drawings are related, is the Quadrins Historiques de la Bible, published in 1550 and 1553 with verses by Claude Paradin. His other major work was a series of illustrations to Ovid's Metamorphosis dedicated to Diane de Poitiers which was published in 1557. These octavo volumes were both published by Jean de Tournes, who like Paradin and Salomon was a Protestant.
The drawings in the present group were made into woodcuts by Salomon for Paradin's bible, and illustrate stories from Genesis and Exodus, which were published in 1550 and 1553 respectively. The drawings for Genesis cover the stories of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac (15 drawings) and Joseph (13 drawings), and those for Exodus that of Moses (12 drawings). All the drawings for Abraham (Genesis, chapters 12 to 25) are in chalk and pen while the rest of the drawings have wash. The compositions of the prints always follow closely those of the drawings, although with numerous differences of proportion and sometimes also of detail (for example, lot 105). The final drawings for the prints were probably made by Salomon directly onto the woodblocks, since the drawings in the present group are slightly larger than the prints and bear no indications of transfer.
Other than the present forty drawings, only one other could be given to Salomon, partly on the basis of an inscription, sold at Christie's, London, 11 December 1979, lot 139.