Edouard Manet, Le Christ aux Anges, etching

Le Christ aux Anges

Moreau-Nélaton 3, Guérin 23, Harris 33, Fisher 25, Wilson-Bareau 34

etching and aquatint, 1866-67, on medium-weight cream laid paper, the 3rd state (of 3), a very fine impression* with full margins (deckle edges above and left), some light staining from an old mount along the extreme upper margin, a few slight handling creases in the margins, otherwise in spendid condition

P. 398x330 mm., S. 452x366 mm.

Manet, Christ aux Anges, watercolor drawing

This exceptional etching is a later adaptation of Manet's renowned painting (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), that, in spite of Charles Baudelaire's enthusiasm, provoked quite a scandal at the Salon de 1864

According to the inscription on the stone in the painting ("évang[ile] sel[on] St Jean chap. XX v. XII"), this picture purports to represent a scene from the Gospel of Saint John 20:12, wherein Mary Magdalene peers into the empty tomb:

And seeth two angels in white
sitting, the one at the head,
and the other at the feet, where
the body of Jesus had lain.

It is unclear why Manet undertook this etching, although there is a watercolor drawing in the Louvre that was clearly made in preparation of the print, as they are nearly identical in size, although reversed (see right).

Furthermore, this etching is quite rare, as it was never published, either in Manet's lifetime or posthumously.  Jay Fisher states "the final state is known in no more than nine or ten impressions", all of which were probably printed by Henri Guérard, who was a close friend of Edouard Manet's.  He printed a number of Manet's etchings, and although he returned many of the plates to the artist, he kept this plate in his possession.

* There is a splendid proof impression (on ivory laid paper) in the Art Institute of Chicago, which also holds the plate :