A Painting and a Watercolor by Papety Donated to the Musée Fabre

18/2/13 - Acquisitions - Montpellier, Musée Fabre - These past two years, the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, the region’s most active institution in terms of acquisitions (both in quantity and quality) enriched its collections with two works by Dominique-Louis-Ferréol Papety thanks to the generosity of a private donor and a foundation.

1. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Greek Women at the Fountain, 1839-1840
Oil on Canvas - 96 x 135 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Musée Fabre/F. Jaulmes

2. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Greek Women at the Fountain
Oil on Canvas - 56 x 73 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : RMNGP/R.-G. Ojéda

The first work, donated in 2011 by Mrs. Sabatier, who is French but lives in Canada, is a canvas representing Women at the Fountain (ill. 1). The artist treated the subject several times but this seems to be the first version of the painting he sent his third year of his residency at the Villa Medicis after winning the Prix de Rome in 1835. In 1982, the Louvre had acquired a work which is very close to the one donated to the Musée Fabre, with some variations and half the size (ill. 2). Although he was not a student of Ingres as has been often said in the past, Papety frequently adopted a similar manner of linear and stylized strokes characteristic of disciples of the master from Montauban. In this painting, he yields to the neo-Greek trend which developed for a short time in the mid-19th century, as illustrated by some of its best known representatives such as Gustave Boulanger, Jean-Louis Hamon, Henri Picou and Jean-Léon Gérôme.
The donor is a descendant of François Sabatier who was a friend of Papety and one of his principal patrons. He was known notably for commissioning the décor of his palace in Florence (Palazzo Renai) from the artist, executed with a "fourieriste" iconography [1].

3. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Greek Women at the Fountain, c.1840-1841
Black Chalk, Watercolor, Gouache Heightenings - 28.6 x 34 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Musée Fabre/F. Jaulmes

The second Papety work joined the collections in September 2012 and is a beautiful watercolor with the same subject, very close to the preceding painting, which was donated by a Swiss organization, the Fondation Typhaine. This is a variation of the first and of the canvas at the Louvre, in which the architecture is different but showing both the woman on the left filling her earthenware jar at the fountain and the group of seated women on the right.

The Musée Fabre already owned a beautiful ensemble of drawings, watercolors and gouaches by Papety, notably from the bequests left by François Sabatier and Alfred Bruyas. Thus it holds three preparatory watercolors for A Dream of Happiness, another canvas painted for François Sabatier, of which two preparatory studies were recently acquried by the Musée Vivenel (see news item of 20/11/12).

4. Dominique Papety (1815-1849)
Greek Women at the Fountain, 1839-1840
Charcoal, White Heightenings - 96 x 135 cm
Beauvais, Musée de l’Oise
Photo : Musée de l’Oise

Addendum : When writing this article, an important preparatory drawing (ill. 4) for the Montepellier painting (with the exact same size), donated in 2002 by Jacques and Elizabeth Foucaart to the Musee departemental de l´Oise, in memory of Marie-José Salmon, had escaped our attention. It was published notably in the work directed by Josette Galiegue, Marie-José Salmon. ¨Le patrimoine pour passion. Une vie de conservateur au Musee departemental de l´Oise¨, Editions Monelle Hayot, 2003, p. 111. Strangely enough, the entry states that the painting resides at the Musee Fabre (Sabatier d´Espeyron collection) which was in fact not the case and mistakenly anticipated the additon of this work to the collections by several years.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 4 mars 2013


[1] See : François-Xavier Amprimoz, "Un décor "fourieriste" à Florence", Revue d’Art, n°48, 1980, pp. 57-67.

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