Boilly and Longhi : Some Genre Scenes for the Getty Museum

1. Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845)
Entrance to the Jardin Turc. 1812
Oil on canvas - 73.3 x 91.1 cm
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

14/11/11 - Acquisitions - Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum - The very beautiful exhibition on Louis-Léopold Boilly which just opened at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille and for which we will soon publish a review comes at almost the same time as the recent acquisition of a painting and a drawing by the Getty Museum.

The painting (ill. 1), purchased for $4,562,500 at Christie’s New York on 27 January 2010, was exhibited at the Salon in 1812 and 1814. It represents the outside of the Café Turc, an establishment founded in 1780 which was famous for its ice creams and was located on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. Children are seen playing while well dressed bourgeois talk, rest or watch the show put on by two short Savoyards, one exhibiting a marmot and the other playing a hurdy-gurdy. Like in all his other street scenes, Boilly employs various angles, the diversity of the people gathered here in a particularly lively manner. Although some protagonists seem to be staring out at the viewer, as the catalogue entry tells us, the figures in this scene seem for the most part to be rather indifferent to any outside presence. This is not a representation, rather a scene from everyday life, a relaxing moment in the middle of a beautiful summer day.

2. Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845)
Entrance to the Jardin Turc, 1812
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

An collector from Antwerp contacted the museum via its website after hearing of the acquisition to ask for an opinion regarding a preparatory drawing (ill. 2) he owned. The Getty museum was then able to acquire this sheet a few months ago following a consultation with the artist’s two specialists, Etienne Bréton and Pascal Zuber, who confirmed that they would include the sheet in the catalogue raisonné they were preparing.
There are several differences between the study and the final work. The centring of the drawing is identical... At the top right, we can see a waiter on the café terrace who will then disappear from the painting (but who remains visible in an infrared photograph [1]).

3. Pietro Longhi (1701-1785)
The Painter in His Studio. about 1741-1744
Oil on canvas - 41 x 53.3 cm
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

4. Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770)
Alexander the Great and Campaspe in the Studio of Apelles.
about 1740 Oil on canvas - 42 x 54 cm
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum
Photo : Getty Museum

We would also like to mention the acquisition, in 2011, from Simon Dickinson, of a second genre painting, this time an 18th century Italian work : The Painter in his Studio by Pietro Longhi (ill. 3) by the Getty Museum.
The scene represents a painter (Longhi himself ?) at work on the portrait of a young woman, while a gentleman, his carnival mask partially removed, stands by her side. As William Poundstone remarks very aptly in his blog blog, the subject, the period and the size of the work are very close to Alexander the Great and Campaspe in the Studio of Apelles (ill. 4), a Venetian canvas by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo which also resides at the Getty Museum [2]. Both compositions are very similar but inverted and would almost appear to be a corresponding pair, assembling a historical painting and a genre scene.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 14 novembre 2011


[1] Some of the information in this article has been taken from the Lille catalogue entry.

[2] We should remember that this painting used to be at the Louvre before being returned to the owner’s family, looted during WWII.

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : A Terracotta Group by Clodion Acquired by the Ashmolean Museum

Next article in News Items : Mary Cassatt Joins the Fort Worth Museum