Rare French Woodcut Engraving “L execution d’Amboise faite le 15 Mars 1560″


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Between 1569 and 1570 French painter, engraver and architect Jean Perrissin, French
printmaker Jacques Tortorel, and French printmaker Jacques Le Challeux (all Huguenots
who had fled to Geneva to escape religious persecution in France) published a series of 40
prints in Geneva generally known as the “Quarante Tableaux”, (full name “Premier volume
contenant quarante tableaux ou histoires diverses qui sont memorables touchant les
guerres, massacres et troubles advenus en France en ces dernieres annees. Le tout
recueilli selon le tesmoignage de ceux qui y ont este en personne”). It was a very graphic
depiction of events from the French Wars of Religion based on eye witness accounts. This
print, perhaps the most famous of the entire publication, was entitled “L execution
d’Amboise faite le 15 Mars 1560″ and was Plate #7 of 40. It depicts the executions of
those involved in the Conspiracy of Amboise. Many of the conspirators, intent on
kidnapping the young King Francis II, were rounded up and immediately hanged and left
swinging from the battlements over the castle gate. Others followed and also many were
beheaded or had their sentence commuted to rowing in the galleys for life. This print
depicts these punishments in all their violent detail, and shows La Renaudie hanging from
his own gibbet, awaiting quartering. Individual scenes are labeled A through H with
corresponding descriptions in French printed below the image. The publishing history of
the “Quarante Tableaux” is extremely complex, and explained in great detail by Philip
Benedict in his excellent “The Graphic History: the Wars, Massacres and Troubles of
Tortorel and Perrissin” 2007. Print in very good condition with tear to lower left, several old
taped repairs to back, and some foxing at the edges, none of which affect the image.
Paper 20 3/4″ wide by 15 ½” high.