Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)

Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)

Valentin Lefebvre (Brussels 1642 - 1682 Venice)

The Toilet of Venus

Brown ink and grey wash on paper, watermark shield, remains of brown ink framing lines, 290 x 395 mm (11.5 x 15.5 inch)

- Sale Phillips, London, 29 October 1985, lot 106
- Private collection, United Kingdom


Not much is known of the life of the Flemish artist Valentin Lefebvre (also Lefèvre). The fundamental influence on his work, clear also in the present sheet, is the Venetian artist Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), but it has also been pointed out that Giovanni Coli and Filippo Gherardi were significant.1 Both those painters were working in Venice between 1663-68, in the Library of San Giorgio Maggiore, where Lefebvre was also active around the same period. As an artist Lefebvre mainly concentrated on engravings for illustrations and he is the author of the Opera Selectiora, published in 1682.

The present highly sophisticated and elaborate drawing shares many characteristics with Lefebvre’s engraving of the Rape of Europa, which records a painting of Veronese now in the National Gallery, London (see last image).2 The print was first published as part of the Opera Selectiora series in 1682, and was reissued in 1749 and 1786. Compositionally, our drawing and the engraving are very similar: both have a comparable group of female attendants around a central main figure, and are placed in a wooded Classical landscape. It is possible that the present drawing was engraved, although a corresponding print has not been identified. Alternatively, it could have been intended for sale to a private collector.

Lefebvre’s most famous painting, Esther before Ahasuerus, is in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, and his works are represented in many important museums around the world.


1. See U. Ruggeri, 'Drawings by Valentin Lefèvre', in Master Drawings, vol. XXVI, 1988, no. 4, pp. 335-350, pls. 1-39.

2. Engraving, 294 x 366 mm. Illustrated here is an impression of the 1749 reprint, preserved in the British Museum, London, inv. No 1936,1007.26.

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Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)
Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)
Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)
Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)
Valentin Lefebvre (1642-1683)
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