17th and 18th century French paintings in June sales

17/6/08 — Art Market — Paris and Marseille — The second half of June and early July represents one of the two busiest moments of the year in auction sales for old masters, with the second occurring six months later, end of December and early January. Catalogues flourish and offer important 17th and 18th century French paintings, some of which can turn out to be unpublished discoveries.

1. Pierre Puget (1620-1694)
Holy Family
with Palm Tree

Oil on canvas - 217 x 148 cm
Sale Marseille, 21
June 2008
Photo : Leclère

Next 21 June in Marseille, the Damien Leclère Etude will bring up for auction the famous Holy Family with Palm Tree, a rest stop during the flight into Egypt, by Pierre Puget (ill. 1). He was not only an exceptional sculptor as shown by the Milo of Croton. Like Bernini, he excelled in all of the arts, exemplifying the true Baroque artist. His painted works number less than twenty, half of which are held in the museum in Marseille [1]. This Madonna with Palm Tree does of course stand in sharp contrast to the rigor and classicism associated with 17th century French art. In 1661, after Fouquet’s fall from grace, finding himself stuck in Italy where he had gone to choose some marble, Puget settled in Genoa until 1669. This painting which is placed at around 1662 (perhaps when visiting Toulon), reveals a real exchange with the style of local painters such as Valerio Castello and Domenico Piola, and even more so with the majestic Virgins left there by Van Dyck. Puget chose a cold range of colors with a musical and melancholy tinge which is reinforced by the evening seascape in the background. Nothing is known about its provenance before 1752 when it was purchased by Jean-Baptiste-Laurent Boyer de Fonscolombe, a lawyer and well-known collector. The painting remained since then in the same family (Saporta branch). Let us hope that this masterpiece, which was included in several retrospectives on the artist, will not leave the country and that it will be acquired by a French institution (estimated at 300/400,000€).

2. Hyacinthe Collin
de Vermont (1693-1761)
Roger Arriving
on the Island of Alcina

Oil on canvas - 59 x 72.5 cm
Sale Paris, Drouot, 17 June 2008
Photo : Eve

June 17th in Paris, the Eve auction house of Maître Leroy is selling a study by Collin de Vermont (ill. 2, estimate 12,000/15,000€), a preparation for a tapestry cartoon commissioned by the Gobelins in 1740 and held in the museum in Grenoble [2]. Another preliminary study for the same cycle drawn from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, the Banquet with Alcina and Roger, was acquired by the Louvre ten years ago [3]. In both works, Hyacinthe Rigaud’s nephew shows he is still faithful to classical compositions, either Venitian or French, which he renovates with the freshness and grace of his period. In the same sale, there was a superb painting by François Boucher from his early years, The Virgin with Child Appearing to Saint Stanislas Koska, which has still not found a buyer due to an atypical subject by this painter (40,000/60,000€). The same day, in Neuilly, the Aguttes Etude was auctioning off several amateur paintings, a Virgin with Child ascribed to Nicolas Mignard, a Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife ascribed to Jacques Blanchard and a pair of still-lifes by Thomas Garmain Duvivier, very close to Chardin by their quality.

3. Charles Le Brun (1619-1690)
The Sacrifice
of Abraham

Oil on canvas - 148 x 126 cm
Sale Paris, Drouot,
27 June 2008
Photo : Piasa

4. Charles Le Brun (1619-1690)
The Sacrifice
of Manoe

Oil on canvas - 148 x 137 cm
Sale Paris, Drouot,
27 June 2008
Photo : Piasa

Ten days later, on the 27th, PIASA will be auctioning two large unpublished formats by Charles Le Brun, sacrificial scenes taken from the Old Testament (ill. 3 and ill. 4). According to indications on the engravings by Louis Desplaces, they belonged to Guy Crescent-Fagon, state counsellor and the king’s doctor, in the 17th century (the pair is estimated at 150/200,000€). They date from the 1650’s when Le Brun and his students worked on various sites in private Parisian homes belonging to different patrons and before he was hired by Louis XIV to work at Versailles in 1661. We would like to point out a still-life by Louise Moillon in the same auction as well as a fine Bearing of the Cross signed by Henri de Favanne.

5. Philippe de Champaigne
The Holy Face
Oil on canvas - 70.2 x 52 cm
Sale Paris, Sotheby’s,
25 June 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s

6. Nicolas Bertin (1667/68-1736)
Eliezer and Rebecca
Oil on canvas - 40.5 x 54.7 cm
Sale Paris, Sotheby’s,
25 June 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s will present several noteworthy French paintings on 25 June around a fascinating Holy Face by Philippe de Champaigne (ill. 5, estimate 400,000/600,000€), a very different version from the two already known by him [4]. Among these important but relatively unknown works by French painters, there are the Maître des cortèges, Charles de La Fosse, Nicolas Bertin (ill. 6) [5], Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Louis-Michel Van Loo (A Spanish Woman Playing the Guitar), Nicolas Vleughels (Moses Saved from the Waters), and a rare painting by Frédéric Delanoé (The Wedding of the Young Tobias), formerly seen at Drouot, an artist who has been overlooked despite his documented activity during the second third of the 19th century, as well as some gouaches by Joseph Werner and Giuseppe Pietro Bagetti.... On 9 July 2008, Sotheby’s London is selling ten paintings from Doctor Gustav Rau’s collection, with profits going to his foundation, and including a very beautiful landscape by Patel and two portraits by Rigaud and Nattier.

The Tajan auction house will offer on 26 June, several Italian Baroque canvases (Longhi, Benefial, Ubaldo Gandolfi) alongside an unpublished Classical Landscape by Philippe de Champaigne (ill. 7, estimate 80,000/100,000€) and a very large format by Jean-Baptiste Corneille (ill. 8, estimate 60,000/80,000 €), still unknown today, loud, disturbing and extravagant as is normal for this master. Its provenance dates back, as does its pair held in a private collection, to the Louis-Philippe sale of 1851.

7. Philippe de Champaigne
Classical Landscape
Oil on canvas - 33.5 x 66.5 cm
Sale Paris, Tajan,
26 June 2008
Photo : Tajan

8. Jean-Baptiste Corneille (1649-1695)
Dinocrate Showing His Project
for for Mont Athos
to Alexander

Oil on canvas - 300 x 310 cm
Sale Paris, Tajan,
26 June 2008
Photo : Tajan

There are not many important French paintings to be found at the Christie’s sale in Paris of 26 June, probably being saved for the July auction in London but, nevertheless, one will see an extraordinary Christ Stilling the Waters by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, spirited and tinged with a fiery light, almost Romantic (ill. 9, estimate 300,000€) which is undoubtedly the highlight of the season. It comes from a scattered series and then from the Fodor collection, as do the two Guardis in this sale (a Holy Family and a view of Venice).

9. Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804)
Christ Stilling
the Waters

Oil on canvas - 49.4 x 58.7 cm
Sale Paris, Christie’s,
26 June 2008
Photo : Christie’s

10. Adèle Romany (1769-1846)
Portrait of the Artist’s Family
in Front of the
Château de Juilly

Oil on canvas - 113 x 146 cm
Sale Paris, Christie’s, 26 June 2008
Photo : Christie’s

The same catalogue offers some beautiful classical Flemish paintings and a rare primitive from Valencia ascribed to Gonçal Perris, several neoclassical portraits (Appiani), including a group of six family likenesses by Adèle Romany (ill. 10, estimate 60,000/80,000€) as well as important 19th century French canvases : two portraits of Louis-Philippe on horseback by Eugène Lamy and Horace Vernet, landscapes by Corot and Valenciennes and two compositions by Gustave Moreau.

Version française

Michel de Piles, mardi 17 juin 2008


[1] Marie-Christine Gloton, Pierre et François Puget peintres baroques, Aix-en-Provence, 1985. For the Virgin with Palm Tree, see pp. 94-96, n° 12. Unfortunately, it seems it was transposed in 1952.

[2] Gilles Chomer, Peintures françaises avant 1815 : la collection du Musée de Grenoble, RMN, Paris, 2000, pp. 84-85, n°22.

[3] Marie-Catherine Sahut, Le festin offert par Roger à Alcine dans son palais enchanté de Hyacinthe Collin de Vermont. Une esquisse de tapisserie inspirée de l’Arioste, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 2002, Le tableau du mois, n° 92.

[4] A small format version from a private collection, around 1630, and another, bigger one, from the Brighton museum from 1658. Bernard Dorival, Supplément au catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre de Philippe de Champaigne, Paris, 1992, p. 65-67, n° 50 (lost work, reproduction of engravings by Kilian and de Plattemontagne).

[5] Thierry Lefrançois, Nicolas Bertin (1668-1736). Peintre d’histoire, Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1981, p. 147, no. 79 (lost work). We do not include the works by Joseph Vernet, Hubert Robert, Pillement and Perroneau, rather frequent in this type of sale.

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