Two Paintings by Alexandre Roslin for Versailles and Stockholm

1. Alexandre Roslin (1718-1793)
Portrait of Thierry de Ville-d’Avray, 1790
Oil on canvas - 73 x 60 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
Photo : SVV Geoffroy et Becquet

6/12/13 - Acquisitions - Versailles, château and Stockholm, Nationalmuseum - A Swedish artist who arrived in France around 1752 where he remained until his death, Alexander Roslin (whose name is often written in French as Alexandre) was one of the major portraitists active in Paris in the second half of the 18th century. His Swedish nationality and French career explain the interest of his native country and his adoptive nation for his art.
Thus, two portraits recently joined respectively the château in Versailles and the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. The first represents Thierry de Ville d’Avray (ill. 1) and was pre-empted by Versailles in Saintes (auctioneers Geoffroy et Bequet) at an auction on Saturday 9 November 2013, for 28,000€ [1]. The work had remained in the model’s family until now. Thierry de Ville d’Avray, who was the first mayor of Versailles for a brief period in 1789, is also known for having served as Intendant for the Crown’s Furniture collection in the current Hôtel de la Marine, Place de la Concorde, between 1784 and 1792. His apartment is still preserved there with its original décor and period furniture. The work is signed and dated 1790, at which time he was still working there for the Garde Meuble de la Couronne. The neutral background underscores the beautiful blue of the costume, embroidered with flower garlands. The Order of Saint Louis, worn ostentantiously on the lapel, proves his loyalty to the king, resulting in his death during the massacres of September 1792 while in jail at the Abbaye prison.

2. Alexandre Roslin (1718-1793)
Self-portrait with his Wife,
Marie-Suzanne Giroust at the Easel
, 1767
Oil on canvas - 131 x 98 cm
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum
Photo : Nationalmuseum

The second painting was acquired by Stockholm from a private collection for 19.5 million Swedish Crowns, that is about 2.2 million euros. The price is thus 78 times higher than the one purchased by Versailles. True, the size is larger but it is the subject which makes it so exceptional : it is a self-portrait of the artist with his wife Marie Suzanne Giroust, also a painter, who is working on a pastel portrait resting on an easel. The figure represented in this "painting within a painting" is Swedish, Henrik Wilhelm Peill, a protégé of Count Tessin, who was staying in Paris at the time during his Grand Tour. He then acquired this double (or triple) portrait and took it back to Sweden with him. The small gold box which Roslin is pointing to bears the inscription "Loin et près" [far and near] and two small portraits of women in miniature. The younger one is no doubt Anna Johanna Grill whom Peill married when he returned to Sweden, and the older one is her mother. The work was acquired by the museum with the help of the Friends of the Nationalmuseum and also a private donation.

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 6 décembre 2013


[1] The château can once again make purchases, since the acquisitions committee is now made up equally of men and women (see news item of 25/10/13). An important step forward thanks to Aurélie Filippetti !

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