The Rape of The Sabine Women by Étienne Baudet (after Nicolas Poussin)
This large reproductive print was made by Étienne Baudet (1638–1711) in the early 18th century. Baudet was an eminent French engraver who trained in Paris before moving to Rome to study classical subjects as a member of the French Academy. Upon returning to France, Baudet became a royal engraver to King Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715). In this capacity, Baudet produced a number of prints after Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) and other distinguished artists. Poussin was the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style, and he created a number of large history paintings. The present work was inspired by Poussin’s Rape of the Sabine Women (c. 1637–1638) now housed in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. The subject is taken from Plutarch’s (46–after 119) Life of Romulus and illustrates the moment when the Romans forcibly seize the Sabine women and take them for their wives. As the Roman leader Romulus raises his cloak, his warriors attack the Sabine women. This dramatic story gave Poussin the opportunity to display his command of gesture and pose and depict multiple figures in an emotionally charged scene. The same drama and energy imbues Baudet’s black and white print. The Sabine women try to flee the premises, but they are chased down by the muscular Romans at every turn. Baudet’s print was published by Pierre Drevet (1663–1738) in Paris in 1703 – the same year Drevet relocated his printing business to the rue St. Jacques in the 5e arrondissement, after spending a handful of years on the right bank in the troisième.
At this time in history in France the country was a monarchy ruled by the house of Bourbon. The first treaty of peace of Nijmegen was also signed, ending a series of interconnecting wars between France and The Netherlands.