Rediscovery of An Annunciation by François Le Moyne, on Loan to the National Gallery in London

19/12/11 - Discovery - London, National Gallery - The catalogue raisonné of François Le Moyne by Jean-Luc Bordeaux, Arthéna Ed. 1985, lists a lost Annunciation under number 66. In his biography on Le Moyne, Count de Caylus [1] explained that he thought the work had left for England. He was right because this painting, signed and dated 1727, was recently found by Christophe Rowells (who will publish it next year in the Burlington Magazine) at Winchester College [2] (ill. 1), one of England’s more prestigious public schools, located in Hampshire, Southern England. It seems likely that the work was commissioned by the College headmaster after his arrival there in 1729.

1. François Lemoyne (1688-1737)
Annunciation, 1727
Oil on Canvas - 208 x 127 cm
Winchester, Winchester College
En prêt à la National Gallery de Londres
Photo : National Gallery

2. Laurent Cars (1699-1771),
after François Lemoyne
Annunciation, 1728
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Photo : BnF

The canvas was known through several copies, one of which resides in the sacristy at the church of Saint Sulpice, Paris and another at the Fine Arts Museum in Algiers. Laurent Cars also made an engraving, inverting the image (ill. 2), and dedicated it to Count d’Antin before donating it to the Academy on 3 April 1728.

Winchester College has offered to lend the painting for three years to the National Gallery in London as the museum does not own any works by the artist. It was hung a few days ago and visitors can now see it in room 33.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 19 décembre 2011


[1] All of these facts can be found in Jean-Luc Bordeaux’s book.

[2] We would like to thank Humphrey Wine, curator of 17th and 18th century French painting at the National Gallery in London for providing us with this information.

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