Claude de Rebe
Claude Mellan seems to have been introduced to printmaking in Rome in 1624, when he studied engraving for a brief time with Francesco Villamena (1564-1624) and then progressed to the studio of Simon Voet (1590-1649). He began his mature career by reproducing Vouet's works, as well as those by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) and Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), and making small drawn portraits from life. In 1637, he returned to Paris, where he developed a distinctive technique of parallel lines to create shading. He is most known for his portrait engravings, which are frequently described as done “after life” in the inscriptions. Mellan here depicts the archbishop of Narbonne, Claude de Rebé (1587-1659). The subject is most known for establishing confraternities for the care of elderly women and the education of young girls in Narbonne. He is pictured wearing the Order of the Holy Spirit, which he received in 1633 for his role in halting the participation of Languedoc in the rebellion against Louis XIII. He was a fierce supporter of the crown and a savvy politician during a tumultuous period in France’s history.