A Work by Jacques Blanchard Identified in Austin


1. Here attributed to Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638)
Danaë
Oil on Canvas - 93.4 x 128.4 cm
Austin, Blanton Museum of Art
Photo : Didier Rykner

15/3/13 - Restoration and attribution - Austin, Blanton Museum of Art - The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, which we will soon talk about in our series Itinéraires on Texas, is currently staging a small scholarly exhibition on recently restored paintings. Among these, a Danaë attributed to the "Circle of Simon Vouet" recently recovered a putto, witnessing the scene, and the Jupiter in the sky which had been concealed by repainting (the scene is probably just before the shower of gold as it is not visible in the composition). The results are truly spectacular (ill. 1) and the vague attribution can now probably become much more precise. For this French 17th century amateur, the name of Jacques Blanchard appears to be obvious, and thanks to Olivier Meslay, we learned that two years ago Pierre Rosenberg had suggested his name before the work had recovered its original composition. The information had not reached the museum which had thus not yet taken it into consideration.

The complexion and well rounded figure of Danaë are very typical of the artist known as "the French Titian". The rediscovered putto alone can be considered a veritable Blanchard signature. This type of child is found in the many Virgin with Child and Charity by the painter.
Blanchard often evoked the subject of Danaë. The catalogue raisonné established by Jacques Thuillier at the time of the 1998 retrospective in Rennes included several. A painting (also showing a Cupid) resides at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, another version is at the Tsarkoïe-Selo, a third was sold at Christie’s London in 1989 [1] ;yet another is known thanks to a black and white photograph but its whereabouts are unknown [2]. Two different compositions for lost canvases are known through engravings (in which however there is no Cupid) [3]. Finally, five Danaë which do not correspond in all certainty to any of these paintings are mentioned in the list of lost works known through documented sources. Among these, three cannot be associated with the Austin canvas, the description of a fourth is too incomplete and does not provide any measurements, while a fifth, which belonged to the Hermitage but was sold in 1854, measures 91 x 131 cm, very close to the size of the one in Blanton (93.4 x 128.4 cm) which, given approximate measurements, makes it a possible candidate. However, without further information, we cannot conclude this is the same painting.


2. Jacques Blanchard (1600-1638)
Charity
Oil on Canvas - 110.5 x 142.8 cm
Austin, Blanton Museum of Art
Photo : Blanton Museum of Art


We would like to conclude by pointing out that if the attribution to Jacques Blanchard is confirmed, this will be the second to find itself in the collections of the Blanton museum, as this establishment already owns a Charity (ill. 2), with an identical composition to the one in the Louvre. Although Jacques Thuillier listed it in 1989 as a copy, it is displayed today as an acknowledged work, a fact confirmed by its quality.

Version française


Didier Rykner, mercredi 20 mars 2013


P.-S.

Guillaume Kazerouni, whom we would like to thank, pointed out that this work was published in the proceedings from the Simon Vouet colloquium which appeared in the collection Rencontres de l’Ecole du Louvre as being perhaps by Virginia da Vezzo (the attribution was due to William Crelly, thus returning it to Simon Vouet’s circle). Kazerouni himself does not believe in a Blanchard attribution. He thinks notably that the Danaë is too smooth, a term also used independently by Moana Weil-Curiel who also expressed his doubts. See also the news item of 19/3/13 where we mention this painting again and talk about its attribution.


Notes

[1] Cat. 22 in the Jacques Thuillier catalogue.

[2] Cat. 72 in the Jacques Thuillier catalogue.

[3] Cat. 23 and 24 in the Jacques Thuillier catalogue.



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