A painting by Mignard and a drawing by Gros preempted by Versailles and the Louvre


1. Pierre Mignard (1612-1695)
Equestrian Portrait of Philippe
d’Orléans, brother of Louis XIV, at the Battle
of Cassel

Oil on canvas - 60.5 x 50.5 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
Photo : Sarl Binoche et
de Maredsous

17/6/08 — Acquisitions — Versailles, Musée National du Château and Paris, Musée du Louvre — The Musée de Versailles preempted a painting today in Orléans by Pierre Mignard representing Philippe d’Orléans, brother of Louis XIV, at the Battle of Cassel (ill. 1), for 40,000€ (without charges).
This modello, which had remained unpublished and for which it is not known if the final version was completed, is very close to the famous canvas by Mignard, held at Versailles, representing Louis XIV at the Siege of Namur. The compositions in both works are similar : the same figure of Victory is placing the crown on the king and his brother, both on identical horses. The costumes, however, show slight variations and the background reveals two different battle scenes.
Cassel was the only battlefield where Philippe d’Orléans saw action, and his brother, who feared being overshadowed by him deprived him of any of the glory. The fact that a large painting showing Philippe as a victor was probably never executed can thus be explained. Dominique Brême, in the catalogue entry, suggests that the one representing Louis XIV was produced after this modello, although he does not exclude the opposite, adding that it might have been a preparation for an engraving. In any case, Louis XIV probably would not have accepted that his brother be represented victoriously in such a truly royal pose.

2. Antoine-Jean Gros (171-1835)
The Victims of
the Saint
Bartholomew’s Massacre, including Admiral de Coligny, Appearing
before
Charles IX

Pen and black ink - 23 x 36 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Millon & Associés

Another pre-emption was that of the Département des Arts Graphiques at the Musée du Louvre during the auction of old drawings on last 11 June at Drouot by Millon & Associés. This is a drawing by Baron Antoine-Jean Gros representing The Victims of the Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre, including Admiral de Coligny, Appearing before Charles IX (ill. 2).
As is well known, the king felt deeply remorseful for the massacre which he had allowed to happen although he had not called for it. This drawing is a preparation for an allegorical painting which was never executed. The use of the supernatural and the appearance of dead spirits, as well as the composition, might recall, except for the Ossian-like colors, Girodet’s The Apotheosis of the French Heros Who Died for their Country, but the reference to Prud’hon and his Revenge and Justice Pursuing Crime is even more obvious here. This sheet was purchased for 220,000€ (without charges).

Version française


Didier Rykner, mercredi 18 juin 2008



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