A Sébastien Bourdon from the Jacques Thuillier Collection Acquired by Montpellier

Sébastien Bourdon (1616-1671)
Artemesia Commanding the Construction of the Mausoleum, c.1663
Oil on Canvas - Diameter : 33 cm
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
Photo : Artcurial

28/3/12 - Acquisition - Montpellier, Musée Fabre - Of all the 17th century painted décors in Paris now disappeared, commissioned from Sébastien Bourdon in 1662 for the Hôtel de Bretonvilliers at the east end of the Ile Saint Louis, but destroyed along with the building housing it in 1840, this is probably the most regrettable loss.

There is no trace left of this grand project and the small tondo sold today at Artcurial from the Jacques Thuillier collection is the only painted vestige (ill.).
This canvas, which the Musée Fabre acquired for 25,000€ (without charges) represents Artemesia Commanding the Construction of the Mausoleum. This is a study for an engraved composition by Jacques Fricquet, preparatory for "one [of the] small painting[s] in color, representing a subject taken from history or an allegorical subject suitable for this very art", according to a description by the Guillet de Saint-Georges gallery [1].

Perfectly typical of the artist’s style, this small study, painted with a light touch and a very limited color palette (the work it prepares was supposed to hang over a grisaille), embodies Bourdon’s art : a rigorous, almost geometric, composition and figures with physical types in characteristic profiles.
We would like to point that at this same auction, the Musée de Vic-sur-Seille also acquired several works we will soon discuss in an upcoming article.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 29 mars 2012


[1] In Mémoires historiques des principaux ouvrages de M. Bourdon...lu à l’Académie le 7 juin 1692, quoted in the catalogue for the exhibition Sébastien Bourdon (2000), written by Jacques Thuillier ; the painting is described and reproduced under number 291.II.I, p. 405.
A student of Sébastien Bourdon and one of his collaborators for the décors at the Hôtel de Bretonvilliers, Fricquet produced fourteen engravings representing the "small paintings with colors".

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