A Study by Noël Coypel from the Thuillier Collection Acquired by Versailles


18/5/12 - Acquisition - Versailles, Musée National du Château - The contents of the Jacques Thuillier collection were auctioned off to either the Musée départemental Georges de La Tour or the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy [1] but one work was missing : a very beautiful study by Noël Coypel for the ceiling of the Salle des Gardes in the Queen’s Apartment (ill. 1) at the château in Versailles. The reason is that Artcurial had astutely offered it to the Musée national which did not pass up the chance to acquire such an obviously welcome addition. This is because it is preparatory for one of its décors, but also due to the fact that since 1994 the museum already owned another study (ill. 2) by the same painter for the ceiling in the Salon de Saturn (never completed).


1. Noël Coypel (1628-1707)
Jupiter Chariot between Justice and Piety, c. 1670-72
Oil on Canvas - 74 x 76 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : RMN/Château de Versailles

2. Noël Coypel (1628-1707)
The Triumph of Saturn on his Chariot Pulled by Dragons, c. 1670-72
Oil on Canvas - 75 x 78.5 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : RMN/Château de Versailles


Both these preparatory studies, of almost identical size, can be dated back to 1670-1672 and formed companion pieces which were held by the artist’s family until the auction of the Charles-Antoine Coypel collection in 1753 [2]. Given their state of completion, these were probably modelli presented to the king.
The one just purchased by Versailles is slightly different from the final work (ill. 3), notably the gesture of Jupiter holding the sceptre, missing from the ceiling, and the position of the Allegory of Violence on the lower right.


3. Noël Coypel (1628-1707)
Jupiter Chariot between Justice and Piety, c. 1670-72
Ceiling of the Salle des Gardes de la Reine
Musée national du Château de Versailles
Photo : RMN/Château de Versailles


The ceiling has an eventful history. Originally intended for the King’s Grand Cabinet, in the northwest corner of the Grand Appartement of the King, it was finally moved to its current location. On 6 March 1942, no doubt affected by the bombing near the château three days earlier, the plaster shell gave way and the whole ceiling fell to the floor [3]. A photograph published by Nicolas Milovanovic in the work quoted in the footnote above shows the very bad state of the composition, with many missing areas. Another restoration for this décor is planned for this autumn 2012.

Version française


Didier Rykner, vendredi 25 mai 2012


Notes

[1] Not counting of course the works sold a few years ago by the Marcel-Duchemin Gallery.

[2] Cf. Jacques Thuillier, Noël Coypel, written for the national celebrations in 2007.

[3] Cf. Nicolas Milovanovic, Les Grands Appartements de Versailles sous Louis XIV. Catalogue des décors peints, RMN, 2005, p. 164.



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