Reappearance of Antoine Callet’s morceau d’agrément

18/11/07 — Discovery — Antoine Callet — At a sale in Antwerp on Monday, 12 November, at Bernaerts, a large painting (ill. 1) was auctioned off under the dubious attribution of Louis-Jean François Lagrenée. Several discerning amateurs had recognized Antoine Callet’s morceau d’agrément, shown at the Salon of 1777, known until today only by its study held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper (ill. 2) for which several drawings exist (Paris, Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts [1] and New York, Metropolitan Museum [2]). The subject is rarely seen : Ceres, irate at the abduction of her daughter Proserpine by Pluto, threatens to destroy Jupiter’s crops.

1. Antoine Callet (1741-1823)
Jupiter and Ceres, Salon of 1777
Oil on canvas - 220 x 283 cm
Sold in Antwerp at Bernaerts, 12 November 2007
Photo : Bernaerts

2. Antoine Callet (1741-1823)
Jupiter and Ceres, c. 1776-1777
Oil on canvas - 34 x 43 cm
Quimper, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper

The quality of the work, sold for 290,000 € before charges, had not escaped the auctioneer’s eye indicating that this was a “museum” piece. It is indeed, but the auction house had not established the artist’s name. The style, however, made it easy to identify. Callet’s style is recognizable, although in this case he is a little more ambitious than usual : the painting was well received by the critics at the Salon who congratulated him for abandoning his “petite manière”. He persisted in this vein, painting several ceiling decorations, for instance the Galerie d’Apollon at the Louvre or the Palais du Luxembourg as well as grand allegories such as France Saved at the Musée de Vizille. The study in Strasbourg has been published several times, most recently in the catalogue for the exhibition in Strasbourg and Tours, L’Apothéose du Geste.

Acknowledgements : Gui Rochat

P.S. This painting was finally bought by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (see News item of 23/7/08)

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 18 novembre 2007


[1] Collectif, Maitres Francais 1550-1800 Dessins de la donation Mathias Polakovits a l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, 1989, p. 270-272

[2] 18th Century French Drawings in New York Collections, Metropolitan Museum, 1999, p. 140-143.

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : A Boilly and a Sablet for the Louvre ; a Sablet (maybe) for the Musée Fesch

Next article in News Items : Discovery of one of the paintings by Jordaens for Philip’s Arch