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Gui Rochat Old Masters,  Consultant Old Master Paintings & Drawings

Gui Rochat regularly features art of 17th and 18th century France that have included works by Francois-Joseph Navez; Michel DeSubleay (Michele DeSubleo); Pierre Brebiette; Michel II Corneille; Antoine Rivalz; Jacques Vigoureux-Duplessis; Jean Boucher; Jacques Stella; Georges Lallemand; Nicolas Chaperon; Claude-Louis Chatelet; Joseph-Benoit Suvee; Jean-Baptiste Deshayes; Jean-Baptiste LePrince; Antoine Chintreuil; Jacques-Francois Amand; Pierre-Alexandre Wille; Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux; Genevieve Navarre; Claudine Bouzonnet Stella; Jean Mosnier; Alphonse Dufresnoy; Jean Tassel;  Charles Errard; Pierre Puget; Raymond LaFage; Claude Vignon;  Jacques de Lestin;  Guy-Claude Halle;  Pierre-Louis Cretey;  Antoine-Francois Callet;  Henriette Gudin ... and Francesco Pacceco de Rosa;  Antonio Balestra; Francesco Fidanza; Giuseppe Bossi...  

Gui Rochat at www.Gui Rochat Homepage has an ever-changing stock of art historically often interesting and unusual Old Master paintings and drawings (see also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gui_Rochat).

Located in New York, Gui Rochat can offer expertise and appraisals for French Old Master paintings and drawings as well as for Post-Impressionist and Modern works. As a former member of the Appraisers Association of America and associate of four major auction houses, these professional appraisals are fully acceptable for estate and tax purposes.

He was the director of Sotheby's representation in the Southwest in Houston, Texas after which he spent several years in Sotheby's Old Master departments in London and New York. After that he became the art consultant and subsequently president of Phillips Fine Art Auctioneers in New York. The latest positions he held were with Butterfield & Butterfield in San Francisco where he was a vice president and the director for Fine Arts and more recently as temporary consultant and director of the painting department at DoyleNewYork.

As a consultant Gui Rochat continues to offer and sell his discoveries to museums and collectors here and in Europe and has given paintings on loan to museums such as the above mentioned Antoine Rivalz to the New Orleans Museum of Art in 1994/6, and again in 2008/10 the Allegory by Pierre Mignard described and illustrated below. He is a member of the scholarly Societe de l'Histoire de l'Art francais in Paris as well as is a member of the Societe des Amis du Louvre and appeared in the Who is who On the East Coast from 1986-1989. Gui Rochat is mentioned in the following publications: Alastair Laing 'The Drawings of Francois Boucher' 2003, Edgar Munhall 'Greuze the Draftsman' 2002, Alberto Cottino 'Michele Desubleo' 2001 and on the internet website 'La Tribune de l'Art'. There are neo-classical landscapes discovered by him now in the collection of the architect Michael Graves in Princeton (vide the PBS program Michael Graves: The Warehouse, a copy after Claude Lorrain above the living room mantle piece made for Prince Colonna after he sold his paintings to Napoleon) and in a private collection in New York City.


French Paintings and Drawings of the 17th and 18th Century

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge images)



In 1992 he discovered an overlooked large painting of The Rape of Europe by Michel DeSubleay (French, 1602-1668), named in Italian Michele DeSubleo, the head of the studio of Guido Reni in Bologna and half brother to Nicolas Regnier (or Niccolo Renieri), working later in Venice and Parma. The work is now in a private collection in Italy and is illustrated in color in La Scuola di Guido Reni by Emilio Negro and Massimo Pirondini, 1992, page 214 (Pesaro) and page 231, fig.218 and it is fully illustrated in color and described in the lavish catalogue raisonne by Dr. Alberto Cottino (2001) on this very interesting artist (color illustration XXXI and page 123, number 57).



Again, in 1994 Gui Rochat discovered another important large painting by Michele DeSubleo, Herodias Presented By a Page With the Head of Saint John the Baptist (in the catalogue raisonne by Dr. Cottino, page 85, color illustration XXXIV and page 128, number 64). This beautiful painting is fully described in all the literature as being lost but mentioned in DeSubleo's testament of 1667 (Thieme-Becker: vol. 9, p. 157, Milantoni 1991: page 453, etc.). It is now also in a private collection in Italy.
http://images/rivalz__bartholomew.jpg He found in 1993 a significant large oil study on paper (106 by 100 cm) by Antoine Rivalz (French, 1667-1735), The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, painted in Rome circa 1695 for a lost altar piece commissioned for a church in Toulouse. It was inspired by The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus by Nicolas Poussin in the Vatican. The oil study was acquired by the prestigious Musee des Augustins in Toulouse, France from where this artist came and was published and illustrated in color in the Revue du Louvre et des Musees de France in their issue of December 1999, page 77, number 12 as a significant addition to the collections of the French museums.This painting featured in an exhibition at the Musee Dupuy in Toulouse, from October 20, 2004 to January 17, 2005 (exhibition catalogue, Antoine Rivalz, le Romain de Toulouse by Jean Penent, 2004, p. 43 illustrated large in color, p. 47 and catalogue raisonne pp. 144-145, number 43, illustrated in color).


Also in 1993 he sold to a private collection in Genova, Italy a newly attributed and very interesting large canvas: Tobit Burying the Dead in Babylon, by Salvatore Castiglione (Italian, 1617-1656), who was the younger brother of the more famous Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, named Il Grechetto, both working for the Duke of Mantua at the time. The attribution was fully supported and the painting will be included by Prof. Timothy Standring in his forthcoming book on the whole Castiglione family of artists from Genova in the mid-seventeenth century.
http://images/7234p-4021.jpg In a private collection is now a re-discovered small work by the fantastical early eighteenth century 'Orientaliste' artist Jacques Vigoureux-Duplessis (French, ca. 1700-1730), one of whose larger works in America hangs in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD. It depicts: A Chinese Emperor With his Concubines Inspecting his Fantasy Fishing Fleet and is of incomparable charm and remained in its original carved gilt wooden frame of palm leaves (1993). It was apparently adapted in the eighteenth century to a decoration on a sidepanel of a sedan chair advertised by a well-known French antiques firm in Apollo magazine in 2000.


The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acquired in 1996 a red and black chalk drawing of high quality: A Young Woman Seated at a Table Looking Through an Optical Mirror at a Print by the artist Gijsbertus van den Berg (Dutch, 1769-1817). The drawing came from the famous collection of Rene Fribourg and had never been identified. It was published and illustrated by the Rijksmuseum in their bulletin of Summer 1997, number 3, page 239.


In 1998 Gui Rochat sold a pair of very beautiful red chalk drawings by Francois Boucher (French, 1703-1770) to the eminent Musee Fesch, the palace and famous collection of Cardinal Fesch, the uncle of Napoleon, in Ajaccio on Corsica. It was not known where these important drawings were as described and illustrated by Dr. Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, advised by Pierre Rosenberg the director of the Louvre in Paris, in her thesis on early drawings by Boucher (page247, cat. Numbers II B 3 and II B 4). They are inspired by a famous painting by the Italian artist Francesco Solimena: La Partenza di Rebecca, now in the Fesch museum but previously in the Baglioni collection in Venice where Boucher must have seen it circa 1730 on a visit till now not known to scholars. The acquisition of these delicate drawings by the Musee Fesch has been published with color illustrations in the Revue du Louvre et des Musees de France, December 2000, page 82, numbers 18 and 19, and they were published by Dr. Beverly Schreiber Jacoby in Master Drawings, vol. 39, #3, 2001. Both drawings were included in an important exhibition of Boucher's graphic work at the Louvre in Paris for the remembrance of the artist's 300th year date of birth: François Boucher, hier et aujourd'hui, catalogue by Françoise Joulie and Jean-François Méjanès, Musee du Louvre , 17 October 2003 till 19 January 2004, entries # 14 and # 15, pp.46-48, both illus. in color.



Among the more interesting recent discoveries in 2001 is a striking oil on paper portrait sketch of a young woman by the Flemish/French painter François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869). It is entirely in the Neoclassical style, but already moving towards Romanticism. Navez was a favorite pupil of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), which is clearly visible in the " subtle glazes built over a ground of transparent scumbled paints as a very careful effort at a disciplined stylization and a refined technique " (Lorenz Eitner). The full authentication comes from Dr. Denis Coekelberghs, author of Francois-Joseph Navez, la nostalgie de l'Italie, an exhibition catalogue from 1999/2000. Dr. Coekelberghs established that this vibrant portrait sketch is mentioned in Navez's own inventory of his works kept at the Royal Library in Brussels as Une étude d'après Mademoiselle Luisa, chez M. Portaels, 1824. It has been published by Dr. Coekelberghs in an article Schnetz? Gericault ? Navez tout simplement in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris, February 2002. It is now in the National Gallery of Scotland (cf. La Tribune de l'Art, www.latribunedelart.com., Nouvelles breves 25/5/04 . Acquisitions . Edimbourg, National Gallery of Scotland).


A very fine oil sketch by the Flemish/French painter Joseph-Benoit Suvée (Bruges 1743 - 1807 Rome), of Achille, après avoir trainé le cadavre d'Hector, le dépose aux pieds du lit où repose le corps mort de Patrocle (Achilles, after having dragged the corpse of Hector, deposits it at the foot of the bed om which rests the dead body of Patroclus), oil on paper, laid down to canvas, size 37.5 x 46 cm., a fairly gruesome but famous passage in the Iliad, which was taken as the subject matter for the Concours du Grand Prix de Rome in 1769 (the yearly competition to spend a year in Rome for the students at the Paris Royal Academy of Art). As Dr. Denis Coekelberghs has noted, this sketch does not follow the composition submitted by Suvée nor the dimensions that were specified by the Academy for each submission. And the vibrancy and subtle color of this oil sketch appear unusual for the artist at that period of his work. Dr. Coekelberghs concluded that it must be of a more mature stage of Suvée's artistic output and he compared it to the oil sketch of Suvée's Prix-winning entry in the year 1771 (now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen), which displays a similar talented and free brushwork and coloring. This attractive oil sketch will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist by Dr. Anne Leclair, author of the catalogue raisonné on the painter Louis-Jacques Durameau (1733-1796) and Dr.Sophie Join-Lambert, Conservateur en chef du patrimoine, directeur du musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours . It is now in a private European collection.


A major discovery for an important client, Dr. Alfred Bader was a quite large and very beautiful Lot and His Daughters (61 7/8 by 91 3/4 in, 167 by 233 cm) by the Dutch 17th century Utrecht artist Abraham Bloemaert, fully signed and dated 1624. This significant painting was offered at Sotheby's New York on January 22, 2004 as Attributed to Hendrick Bloemaert, the son of Abraham and a lesser painter, probably because the canvas was very dirty and the signature had been overpainted as P.P. Rubens. Nevertheless one could see here and there, in the head of the figure in the foreground and in the visible parts of the remarkable still life traces of a very high quality. The true signature and date reappeared soon after the first attempt at cleaning. Dr. Bader was so delighted by this wonderful discovery that he has published the story in his second book on his life as a collector. The significance of this superb still life as a very early example of its kind and thus as proto-type for Utrecht Still Life painting cannot be overstated. The pathos of the scene and the portrait-like depictions of the protagonists are unusual also for Bloemaert. The canvas was inspected, approved of and admired in person by the Bloemaert expert Prof. Marcel Roethlisberger. The painting is at present again in a private collection.


Another recommendation to Dr. Alfred Bader was a very striking portrait of the seventeenth century French art dealer François Langlois (1588-1647). This portrait was offered by Christie's New York on January 26, 2005 as lot number 4 and by an unknown Northern hand, coming from the collection of the Hispanic Society in New York. The resemblance to Langlois was easily established because his portrait as a young man playing the bag pipes ( sourdelines , an aristocratic divertissement at that time) was painted in Rome circa 1623 by his best friend Claude Vignon as well as later in a wonderful likeness of him by Anthony van Dyck, again with his bagpipes in London during a visit there in the 1640's. This portrait shows Langlois surrounded by his interests and the objects of his occupation, unrolling a canvas or a leather cover for his bookbinding trade and seated in front of more such scrolls, on the wall behind him an empty frame, a caliper and plaster medallions and on a table next to him his bagpipes, a leather-bound book, a stack of prints and the small marble head of a pretty young goddess. The remarkable strength of this portrait depends partly on the fact that it displays a certain amount of naïveté in modeling the figure, which gave rise to the possibility that it might be a self portrait, vide an engraving found at Harvard of a similar portrait of a man as Le Cornard Constant (see below), i.e. 'The Constant Cuckhold' signed in the plate Ciartres, Langlois' nickname in Italian, the lingua franca spoken by his artist friends and as coming from the French city of Chartres. It indicates that Langlois knew how to draw and possibly paint. The name 'Ciartres' is also inscribed on the reverse of the canvas of this portrait. The painting also shows strong characteristics of Vignon's later work in its fluidity and lack of color, but the specialist on Vignon, Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht has denied his authorship of this work. The portrait was acquired by the Fondation Custodia in Paris, which was started by the Dutch art collector Frits Lugt and where it now hangs.


La Naissance de la Vièrge, oil on canvas, size 71 by 56 cm. by Claudine Bouzonnet Stella (Lyons 1636-1697 Paris), the remarkable niece of the more famous Jacques Stella (www.Mujeres pintoras: Claudine Bouzonnet-Stella,1636-1697.com and www.L.exposition Jacques Stella à Lyon : enjeux et commentaires - La Tribune de l'Art.com). She mainly concentrated on making excellent engravings after her uncle's paintings and those of Nicolas Poussin. This extraordinary image remained for a long time on loan as attributed to Jacques Stella at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Mass. Despite that a very similar drawing by her of the same subject matter has been in the Fogg museum since 1990 (Sylvain Laveissière, Jacques Stella (1596-1657), exhibition catalogue Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 2006, pp. 232/233, Fig. XV.1). Paintings by Claudine Bouzonnet Stella are rare and another one, the 'Dream of Saint Martin', signed and dated 1666 is in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. Expertise is by Dr. Sylvain Kerspern, affirmed by Sylvain Laveissière from the Louvre. In a private collection.


A very fine and touching Ecce Homo by the Lorraine Mannerist painter Georges Lallemand or Lallemant (Nancy circa 1575-1636 Paris), oil on copper, size 33 x 28 cm., discovered under the auspices of Dr. Sylvain Kerspern. This very well preserved small painting has all the trademarks of the Lorraine Mannerist movement with the restless composition and the carefully depicted emotive expressions of the figures. One can compare the eccentric physiognomy of the taunting soldier to the right with the figure of the beggar in the lower right quadrant of the large 'Charity of Saint Martin' by Lallement kept in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, while the face of the suffering Christ approaches that of the large figure of a king in the 'Adoration' by Lallemant in Saint Petersburg. The pathos of the depiction is enhanced by the youthful appearance of Christ in contrast to the Christ figure in the 'Déploration' by Lallemant in the church of Saint Nicolas-des-Champs in Paris, where the dead body of an aged Christ shows the effect of His fate. Lallemant is presently being studied in depth by the art historian Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht. This exceptional and remarkable work is now in a private collection.


A re-established superb small work by Jacques Stella (Lyon 1596-1657 Paris), this oil and gold on copper, size 24.8 by 20.6 cm. of Dalila coupant les cheveux de Samson shows his invention of applying a scattered thin coat of leaf gold particles onto the paint surface, thereby highlighting parts of the composition in order to enhance all the colors. The Stella expert Dr. Kerspern has described the technique in the words of Andre Félibien (1619-1695), an early art historian as a rideau d'or, a 'curtain of gold'. A similar small painting of Judith en prière dans la tente d'Holopherne of oil and gold on slate is in the Galleria Borghese, Rome (Sylvain Laveissière, Jacques Stella (1596-1657), exhibition catalogue Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 2006, pp. 96/97, illus. cat. 42 and cat. 43). Dr. Kerspern dates the painting to about the 1630's in Rome and bases his reasoning on comparison with other dated works from the same period. One can find the curious shell-shaped helmet (casque en escargot) in an engraving by Charles Audran for a bookplate after Stella, dated 1630 in Rome. This very charming painting is presently in a private European collection.


Retour d'Égypte by Jacques Stella, oil on copper, size 32.5 by 42.5 cm., which displays the same power in a small format as above. Here the painter contributes to the formation of the landscape in French art as Dr. Sylvain Kerspern has noted on his website (http://www.dhistoire-et-dart.com/Stella.html#StellaRetourGoyrand). The painting was engraved in the reverse by Claude Goyrand as illustrated and described in Sylvain Laveissière, Jacques Stella (1596-1657), exhibition catalogue Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse 2006, page 117/8, cat. no. 55. Kerspern also dates this work as in Rome circa the late 1630's. The superb rendering of the pastoral Arcadian landscape derived from the environment around Rome and of course the landscapes of Annibale Carracci and the delicate coloring makes this an unsually fine example of Stella's craft. Nothing in the sweetness of the scene predicts the later life of the Christ Child, here depicted as a young adolescent after his years of refuge in Egypt. Also at present in a private collection.


A fascinating small work by Claude François, (Amiens 1615 - 1685 Paris) called Frère Luc, a contemporary of Simon Vouet and Charles Le Brun depicting La Vièrge embrassant le Christ au Roseau, oil on copper, circular diameter size 19.6 cm. As described on La Tribune de l'Art, the subject matter is a curious combination in execution of the image of the Ecce Homo and that of the Pieta and obviously influenced by Guido Reni in the figure of Christ (http://www.latribunedelart.com/tableaux-récemment-acquis-par-le-musée- des-beaux-arts-de-montreal-article001376.html). Claude François, who in 1645 became a Frère Récollet (i.e. an adherent to the Augustinian Recollets, a mendicant and highly spiritual order), went in 1670 to Canada or as it was then known La Nouvelle-France on a mission to help reconstruct his religious order's convent in Quebec. During his time in the New World (he returned to France in 1671) he painted altar pieces and smaller paintings, which have mostly remained in situ. This work forms like all of Frère Luc's oeuvre part of the first Western artistic endeavors in Canada and he is considered to be a founder of the Canadian fine arts. (http://biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?id_nbr=228) (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_François_(peintre)). Claude François chose his convent name from the patron saint of all painters Saint Luke the Evangelist. The spirituality of this extraordinary artist is fully observable in our small painting. It has been in the Montreal Museum of Fine Art collection since 2008.


Also a very interesting recent discovery was that of the Portrait of a Young Male Child, oil on paper laid down to canvas, size 46 by 35 cm., by the Franco/Flemish pupil of Jacques-Louis David, François-Joseph Navez (Charleroi 1787- 1869 Brussels). The sitter has been identified as Léon-Pierre Suys at about age six circa 1829/30, who is also depicted in a touching pensive portrait by Navez, presently in the Louvre and painted together with his sisters by Navez in a large portrait, now in a private collection, both dated slightly later (1831). Léon-Pierre Suys (1823-1887) was the son of a well-known Belgian architect and friend of Navez, Tilman-François Suys (whose portrait was drawn by Ingres). Léon-Pierre Suys later became an architect in his own right, designing amongst other buildings the beautiful neo-classical Brussels Stock Exchange (see Leon Suys - wikipedia).The portrait has been fully authenticated by Dr. Denis Coekelberghs, co-author of the exhibition catalogue for the important Navez retrospective in 1999/2000 which started at Charleroi, Belgium. Rather than the above described quick portrait sketch of a young woman by Navez, this is a more worked-out and careful image. The shy look of the boy di sotto in su is remarkable in catching the naive charm of the sitter. Typical for Navez is also the fine glazing of the skin making it look almost transparent, the wonderful painterly treatment with highlights of the unruly hair and the fairly sketchy way the large ear is painted (also quite visible in the portrait of a young woman mentioned above). Navez's ability to catch the inner life of his sitters is well established in many of his remarkable portraits of the Belgian nineteenth century bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. In fact it matches in many ways the penetrating observation of their sitters with Dutch seventeenth century portraiture of children (and one thinks here of painters such as Michiel Sweerts). The painting is now in a private European collection.


An important painting is La Vocation de Saint Jacques (The Calling of Saint James the Greater) by Claude-Guy Hallé (Paris 1652- 1736 Paris), oil on canvas, size 72 by 60 cm. This large oil sketch is thought to be a design for the banner which was carried around the Renaissance church of Saint Jacques de la Boucherie (Saint James the Greater of the Butchers Guild), which was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1797. Here originated the yearly pilgrimage to the legendary resting place of the saint in Santiago de Compostella in Spain. Only the beautiful landmark clock tower La Tour de Saint-Jacques remains of this church in the center of Paris near the Place du Châtelet. Our painting was recorded as being lost in the catalogue raisonné by Nicole Willk-Brocard, "Une Dynastie, les Hallé", Arthena 1995, page 284, catalogue number C 42 under Peintures datées but as clearly described with its dimensions in the inventory of June 10, 1712 requested by Hallé to be made of his and his wife Marie-Suzanne Boutet's possessions (Paris, Les Archives nationales, Minutier central, Willk-Brocard, page 645, Item 63). The old parish church of Saint James de Boucherie was built by Jean de Félin, Julien Ménart and Jean de Revier between 1508 and 1522, during the reign of king Francis I and it was the gathering place for pilgrims to Spain who came down the rue Saint-Martin in Paris and continued on their way South along the rue Saint-Jacques (the still existing street where many art dealers had their small galleries, like the widely known François Langlois in the mid-seventeenth century, who was painted by Anthony van Dyck and by Claude Vignon). The remaining tower is crowned by the statue of Saint James. Historically our painting is thus of great importance to the City of Paris, because it represents a record of significant events during several hundred years of human faith. The cult of Saint James is still very strong and it was spread from Spain to its overseas possessions, where the saint is revered as the apostle of peace. Nicole Willk-Brocard has agreed fully to the attribution. It will be published as one of ten newly discovered paintings by Claude-Guy Halle in the Revue des Musées de France by Dr. François Marandet. The painting is now in a private collection.


A valuable and unusual addition to his small works on copper by the French/Canadian painter Claude François or as he was later called Frère Luc (1614-1685) is this image of Saint William of Aquitaine , a soldier renouncing military life in order to become a monk. The size is 22.5 x 17.5 cm. The saint is shown in a flaming red mantle as if engulfed in a purifying fire. His armor is adorned very clearly with the stylized golden rose symbolic of the Provence (later brought to England with his daughter Eleanor of Aquitaine). As Dr. Sylvain Kerspern, the specialist on Frère Luc has remarked, the artist traveled much and many documents have been lost during the French Revolution, but a fine painting by him remains in a church in La Rochelle, the seaport on the Bay of Biscayne established by William of Aquitaine, with could explain this representation of one of the patron saints of Aquitaine. But since this is a small oil on copper it probably was not meant for a church but for private devotion and commissioned by someone named Guillaume or just to honor this saint in which case the La Rochelle connection appears interesting. The highly emotional aspect however of this painting would suggest from the quite rare iconography a greater interest in the devotional value than in the actual historical facts of the represented saint. In Canada as stated above with the description of the La Vièrge embrassant le Christ au Roseau, now in the Montreal Museum, Frère Luc is considered to be the first authentically Canadian artist (FRANÇOIS, CLAUDE, Frère Luc - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online ). Also see Jérome Montcouquiol, Quelques petits formats de Frère Luc (1614-1685) on La Tribune de l'Art, July 29, 2012, described and illustrated as number 17 (http://www.latribunedelart.com). The painting is now in a private European collection.


The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is by the remarkable high baroque French painter Jacques de Lestin or Létin (Troyes 1614-1673 Troyes), as advised by Dr. Sylvain Kerspern, supported by Dr. Patrice Marandel of the Los Angeles County Museum and verbally approved of at a Paris exhibition by Sylvain Laveissière, chief curator of paintings at the Louvre. This very touching and superb oil on copper datable to possibly the 1620's in Rome, size 24.8 by 20.3 cm, probably served as a small personal devotional painting for a royal or aristocratic client. It takes its composition partly from Carravaggio's Martyrdom of Saint Matthew in the Roman church of San Luigi dei Francesi (Saint Louis of the French), which almost naturally also inspired Claude Vignon for his renowned painting of the same subject matter now in Arras, dated 1617. De Lestin is recorded as having arrived in Rome in 1622, living with his painter colleague Charles Mellin (who equally used the image of the descending angel from Carravaggio) and the sculptor Jacques Sarrazin. De Lestin is described as coming for the first time during Easter 1624 to Simon Vouet's studio, who himself had already arrived in Rome in 1614. De Lestin studied the large works of the then ténèbriste Vouet and obviously was much influenced by his style. Back to France in 1626 de Lestin was asked to execute many works outside his birthplace of Troyes and he kept in contact with Vouet and his circle who returned in 1627 to Paris. This exquisite small work displays the particular physiognomy and typical musculature seen in de Lestin's larger works. The nervous movement of the brush, heavy swirling drapery, the clasped hands and the flickering light coming from above left, casting deep soft shadows and the vibrant coloring denote the theatrical baroque efforts of the French artistic Counter Reformation, intending to show the spiritual strength of the Saints. The artist succeeds in depicting the cruelty of the moment with a moving but superb and very poetic pathos, much like what Vignon expressed in his Saint Matthew, while also having been influenced by the early Roman works of Vouet. Notwithstanding the size of this small amazing work, it shows the full power and talent of this quite unusual artist, cf. Jacques de Létin, exhibition catalogue Musee des Beaux-Arts de Troyes, 1976, with a preface by Jacques Thuillier. The painting is now in the collection of the Museé des Beaux-Arts de Troyes, France (http://www.latribunedelart.com/un-nouveau- jacques-de-letin-pour-le-musee-des-beaux-arts-de-troyes).

 Paintings & Drawings

The following works of art are available from inventory and are on offer for sale:

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge images)


Le Faune et sa Femelle (The Faun and his Female) by Nicolas Chaperon (Chateaudun 1612-1655 Lyon), oil on canvas, size 59 x 44.5 cm. As one of the pupils of Simon Vouet, Chaperon was not only a painter but was also an engraver who made prints from works by Vouet, Poussin and Dorigny, all with themes from Greek and Roman mythology. The subject matter was mainly taken from Roman writers such as Ovid and Catullus, who wrote about the childhood and life of the wine god Bacchus, called Dionysus by the Greeks. Bacchus was the son of Zeus by the priestess Semele and he was celebrated in ancient mythology for his orgies surrounded by satyrs, female revelers and fauns (a famous depiction of Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian hangs in the National Gallery in London). The secular taste for such light hearted scenes, allowing the artist to freely use his imagination became early on fashionable in Italy and France. Chaperon produced paintings of Bacchanalia and a series of engravings from his own works in Paris before leaving for Rome in 1636. In this work the influence of Poussin is clearly visible in the cherub to the left and the influence of Vouet in the female figure, but both the seated faun with his huge shoulders and the satyr looking down from the tree are typical of Chaperon as is the small cherub leaning against the Faun and looking up at him. There is an engraving (in the same direction) after this painting by Chaperon in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, size 227 x 163 mm, signed in the plate Chaperon f., Mariette excudit, engraved by Chaperon and published by Pierre-Jean Mariette, a Parisian dealer in prints and illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Nicolas Chaperon, 1612-1654/55, Du graveur au peintre retrouvé, Nîmes musées des Beaux-Arts, 1999, authors: Sylvain Laveissière, Dominique Jacquot and Guillaume Kazerouni, pages 102-104, illus page 102, Catalogue number 21. This painting has great charm, and relates to the similarly appealing Drunken Silenus by Chaperon in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The juxtaposition of the Faun and his Female in the foreground, reclining in opposite positions is an image going back to antiquity. Dr. Dominique Jacquot one of the editors of the Nimes exhibition catalogue and author of the chapter on Chaperon's early years in Paris and his Bacchanalia has fully approved of the attribution. What makes this canvas and the preparatory drawing for it so interesting is that it is a distinct parody on the many Holy Families being produced at that time, which makes one wonder in how far the anti-clerical movement in France was expressed by the fashion for such mythological subject matter like these works.


Le Faune et sa Femelle (The Faun and his Female), a preparatory drawing for the above painting by Nicolas Chaperon (Chateaudun 1612-1655 Lyon), pen and brown ink with brown wash, size 28.5 x 21.5 cm. Provenance Jules-Alexandre Duval Le Camus (1814-1878), Paris, whose collection stamp it bears lower left (Lugt, Marques de Collections de Dessins et d'Estampes,, no. 1441). This high quality drawing follows Chaperon's superb graphic style as well as his preferred medium of pen and brown ink and brown wash (cf. Sylvain Laveissière, Dominique Jacquot and Guillaume Kazerouni, Nicolas Chaperon 1612-1654/55 , catalogue for the exhibition at the musées de Nîmes, 1999, Cat. 35, p. 140 illus. passim). Dr. Jacquot mentions in his description of the engraving in the same direction made by Chaperon himself (cf. idem, Cat. 21, pp. 102/4, illus. collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris), that despite the heavy influence of Poussin and Vouet, one finds here the typical features of Chaperon's modeling of figures. The faun seen from the rear with large shoulders, the child with his round face who looks up at him and in particular the satyr with horns on a bald and knobby head seen from above, which he describes as a sort of signature of the artist. As comparison Jacquot mentions paintings sold at Christie's London in 1997 and a design correctly attributed to Chaperon by Kazerouni, illustrated in the drawing catalogue by Richard Harprath, Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée et alia, Simon Vouet: 100 neuentdeckte Zeichnungen for an exhibition at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munchen, 1991. The fact that the composition has been copied many times and that the engraving exists in many impressions shows that it was a much admired image during Chaperon's life time.There are copies after our drawing in the Louvre (copie après Chaperon 41 x 30.6 cm., inv. 25205, Fonds des dessins, Grand format) and one in the Albertina in Vienna (Satyrfamilie 24.8 x 19.5 cm. inv. no.11591).


Neptune calmant la tempête (Neptune calming the storm), an exceptional and large work by Pierre Brebiette (Mantes 1598?-1642 Paris), oil on canvas, size 111.7 x 148.6 cm., attributed with the full support from Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht author and Dr. Sylvain Kerspern, co-author of the exhibition catalogue Pierre Brebiette, Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orleans, 2002. As Jacques Thuillier wrote in his preface to the catalogue " On peut voir en Brebiette un petit maître charmant qui poursuit en plein XVIIe siècle le vieux rêve païen de Fontainebleau et retrouve pour chanter Bacchus, les dryades et les satyres, les accents point si lointains ni oubliés de la Pléïade. Mais un autre image s'impose : celle d'un artiste indépendant, dont les expériences romaines eurent un role déterminant pour le développement du courant néo-venétien des années vingt " (One could see in Brebiette a charming small master who pursues in the full seventeenth century the old pagan dream of Fontainebleau and recovers for our enchantment Bacchus, the dryads and satyrs, returning to the quite far removed but not forgotten sounds of the 'Pléïade'- i.e. the Pléïade is the name given to a group of 16th-century French Renaissance poets, inspired by Alexandrian poets and tragedians of the 3rd century B.C. -. But another image imposes itself: that of an independent artist, to whom the Roman experiences were a determining role for the development of the neo-Venetian trend in the years twenty - i.e. 1620's -). Brebiette's works have great charm, but there are traces of melancholy like in our painting as if celebrating a vanishing mythological world. His depictions of Proserpina abducted to the Underworld (there is an example in the Louvre and a small variation on copper in private hands) denote a regret as if with her all of antiquity disappears into the dark. This large Neptune calmant la tempête with the prominent figure of Neptune en colère (wrathful), seems almost a warning not to forget or neglect the ancient gods while we navigate our uncertain fate. The ship with its torn sails struggles to reach safe haven, while a Triton heralds Neptune's triumph. It is in fact a depiction inspired by the Aeneid of Virgil where Aeneas' ship threatened by a storm invoked by Aeolus the god of the wind to exert a revenge by the goddess Juno on Aeneas is calmed by Neptune himself so that Aeneas will safely reach the coast of Africa, here seen in the distance. Brebiette is an idiosyncratic painter as can be seen in his self portrait engraved after the death of his wife Loyse de Neufgermain in 1637, which bears the inscription animum pictura pascit inani (Painting nourishes the heart of him who is overwhelmed), but also with a poetic and romantic nature almost modern in sensibility. His love for a vanishing ancient world was encouraged in Rome by the Cavaliere Dal Pozzo, the sophisticated patron of Poussin whose deep interests in Roman archeology were well known. Having become peintre du roi (court painter to Louis XIII) Brebiette enjoyed success in Paris with his tales from ancient mythology. Both Dr. Bassani Pacht and Dr. Kerspern place our Neptune calmant la tempête to about 1640 towards the end of Brebiette's working life, a date supported by the structure of the struggling ship and by an engraving by Brebiette dated 1640 of Le Temps sur son Char...etc. (in the Orleans catalogue number 103, page 102, illustrated) which shows the figure of Time (see detail below) whose physiognomy resembles that of Neptune in our painting seated on a chariot and with fluttering robes comparable to the torn sails on Aeneas' ship. Dr. Bassani Pacht states that she plans to publish our painting in an article on Brebiette's landscapes in a forthcoming collection of essays in honor of the eminent art historian Jacques Thuillier, edited by Alain Merot, Philippe Sénéchal et Denis Lavalle. The painting is at present exhibited at Galerie Alexis Bordes, 4 rue de la Paix, 75002 Paris with a special illustrated catalogue written by Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht (http://www.alexis-bordes.com/images/news/BREBIETTE2014/ABordesCatalogue_Brebiette2014.pdf).

A glowing Allegory of Requited and Abdundant Love, by Charles Poerson (Vic-sur-Seille 1609 - 1667 Paris), circa the mid-1630's (?), oil on canvas, size 93 x 75 cm. Venus, whose lower torso is loosely wrapped in a mantle, sits in an informal pose between two putti representing Anteros as Requited Love and Eros as Abundant Love or in another sense, spiritual and sublime emotion against base and material wants. Cupid as Anteros stands confidently to one side, leaning on his bow and against the goddess' knee, a stalwart defender of love's sanctity and spiritual power. The other cupid jumping animatedly in front of a broken column is Eros, by contrast, an emblem of unchecked appetites as he attempts to seize the bunch of grapes that Venus prudently withholds. One can infer from this tantalizing juxtaposition -- along with the gathering storm clouds in the background -- that a momentous decision has been made. The goddess, whose arm rests on Anteros's shoulder, has chosen love that is high-minded and everlasting over the quest for more fleeting, sensual pleasures. It was not uncommon for artists of seventeenth century France to flatter their aristocratic female patrons by portraying them as classical goddesses like Venus or Diana and in poses reminiscent of Greek and Roman sculpture. This may be the case here, although the sitter is unknown. Nudity was no impediment to such portrayals provided that the goddess was clearly shown as the embodiment of beauty, chastity, wisdom, good breeding, and/or as a devout patron of the fine arts. (It was only from the mid-eighteenth century on that the middle class virtues of literacy, religious devotion, or motherhood became popular modes of representation). The composition takes its inspiration clearly from the 16th century engraving by Giovan Battista de' Cavalieri (1525-1601) after a seated antique marble Venus flanked by Anteros and Eros, kept in the Chiaramonti collection in the Vatican museums. The figure of Cupid as Anteros is directly taken from a fresco by Raphael circa 1516 in the Vatican (Stufetta del Cardinale Bibbiena) which was engraved by Agostino Veneziano (ca. 1490-ca. 1540) now kept in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Inv. 59.570.230 and Bartsch XIV 218.286) (see below). Charles Poerson bathes the figure of Venus in strong white light emanating somewhat from the left, and frames her face and flowing locks with the contrasting tones of black and royal blue in the sky. The flesh tones are sumptuously rendered in fine gradations of color. A pink ribbon in Cupid's hair marks him as the favorite of the goddess. The landscape background efficiently conveys a poetic atmosphere, and the broken column alludes to the vanity of once mighty civilizations now lost. This Allegory of Love and Abundance would appear to be an appropriate summation of Poerson’s Atticiste style inspired by the Bolognese school of painters, incorporating an inventive disegno and subtle coloration with an admirable gift for conveying refined sentiment. The face of Venus is directly reflected in the face of Helena in Poerson's small tondo of L'Enlèvement d'Hélène in the Louvre (Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée, Nicole de Reyniès and Nicolas Sainte Fare Garnot, Charles Poerson (1609-1667), Arthena 1997, color plate 2, cat. no. 3, page 78). It is only in the last thirty years that historians have come to recognize Charles Poerson as a major exponent of the new classical style in France during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Art historians like Clementine Gustin-Gomez have attempted to restore him to prominence by distinguishing his work from that of his contemporaries. Dr. Gustin-Gomez wrote about the Allegory of Love and Abundance that the attribution is a very good idea without having seen the painting in person. The attribution is fully accepted by Patrice Marandel, European painting curator at the Los Angeles County Museum. This painting was suggested already as a work from Charles Poerson's hand by Jean-Claude Boyer, formerly from the Académie de France in Rome and by Sylvain Laveissière, the Louvre's emeritus chief curator of paintings, based on the resemblance of the figures in this work to paintings and drawings known to be by the artist. The French collector Paul Micio who owns a major Poerson also recognized this work as autograph. Charles Poerson appears to have entered in 1634 the studio of Simon Vouet (1590-1649). It is reported that he worked with Philippe de Champaigne and Simon Vouet on Cardinal de Richelieu’s palace circa 1632. It is possible that he went to Italy sometime during 1630s, which would support the connection of this composition with the antique marble sculpture and Raphael’s fresco in the Vatican (see above) although there is no direct evidence that documents this. In any event, he developed an Italianate style under Vouet's tutelage, characterized by a restrained palette, strong lighting effects, the use of monumental figures modeled after antique prototypes, and a tendency to set the action against rather static but evocative architectural settings. His pictorial language became also closely aligned with Vouet's. After the death of Vouet in 1649, Poerson’s style became more classical, that is, less theatrical and more intellectually complex both in composition and in his deployment of color. He settled as a painter in Paris from 1638 onwards and in 1651 he was elected member of the Académie royale. Charles Poerson designed a large number of cartoons for the royal tapestry works, les Gobelins. Among his more famous works are the large and fine allegorical portrait of the young Louis XIV as Jupiter and victor over the Fronde rebellion hanging in Versailles and his beautiful and classical Camma et Synorix in the musée des Beaux-Arts in Metz, both of which relate directly to this superb Allegory, in particular in the faces and bodies of the grand figure of Louis XIV and the suffering Camma. The painting comes from a notable private collection in Rome and was exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art as by a close pupil of Vouet in 2008-2010. The painting was also on loan to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as attributed to Poerson in 2012/2013 (http://www.lacma.org ). The relationship of this image to the sculptural works in marble by Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720) and François Girardon (1628-1715) at Versailles and in the Louvre is remarkable in particular to their seated allegorical goddesses surrounded by putti.


A large and impressive Bacchanal by Nicolas Chaperon (Chateaudun 1612-1655 Lyon), oil on canvas, size 133.5 by 144.5 cm. This splendid image though maybe less reddish and lighter in tone than some of Chaperon's other paintings (cf. 'The Drunken Silenus' in the Uffizi gallery in Florence) nevertheless displays many characteristics of Chaperon's hand. For example one notices here the splatches of red color in the tree trunks like in an earlier 'Faun and his Female' by Chaperon (see above). And the prone figure of the inebriated Silenus is found in many of Chaperon's drawings, etchings and paintings. A close comparison can be made between the typical physiognomy of the figures within a triangular composition and the five engravings after Chaperon by Michel Dorigny as confirmed by the art-historian and collector Jean-Pierre Mariette (1694–1774). The attribution is fully supported by Dr. Patrice Marandel of the Los Angeles County Museum. All the bacchanalia are described by Dr. Dominique Jacquot and illustrated in the small exhibition catalogue edited by Dr. Sylvain Laveissière of Chaperon's works at the Nîmes musée des Beaux-Arts in 1999, pages 79-135. The closest of these engravings is Laveissière's catalogue number 22 (in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris), pages 104-106 where one can see the bacchante on the left in our painting who embraces the other bacchante half turned away from the viewer directly reflected in the bacchante who pours wine into the lifted cup of a kneeling bacchante (see detail below). This typical embracing gesture is present in many of the etchings and drawings after and by Chaperon (cf. the satyr embracing a tree trunk in our above listed example). In fact a possible preparatory drawing for our painting of this theme, a bacchante bending over and pouring wine with a prostrate Silenus supported by two other bacchante was offered by Christie's in Paris from the Palais Abbatial de Royaumont collection (sale September 19-21, 2011, lot 64 $ 29,138). While in another engraving by Dorigny after Chaperon the bacchante seen from the rear in our painting, is exactly like the bacchante depicted to the left in that etching (Laveissière, catalogue number 26, pages 112-114). The luscious fullness and massing of the figures in our painting can clearly be seen in the red chalk drawing in the Louvre and its engraving by Dorigny after Chaperon of ‘The Drunken Sileneus on a Goat Supported by two Fauns’(Laveissière catalogue number 24, pages 108-110). The three-dimensional and triangular position of his figures against dark woods is directly reflected in a black chalk drawing by Chaperon in the Albertina in Vienna (inv. # 11.587, illus. and described by B. Brejon de Lavergnée et alia , Charles Poerson (1609-1667) , Arthena 1997, page 213, number 129) which could very well be a study for this work and is also comparable to the red chalk drawing of ‘La Nourriture de Jupiter’ in the musée des Beaux-Arts in Besançon. And the exact replica of our kneeling faun to the right holding up Bacchus is found in a copy after Chaperon of the 'Union of Bacchus and Venus' in the Grand Palais in Paris. Equally as noted by Jacquot is the manner of representing the forward inclined heads of the protagonists in a remarkably rhythmical pattern. Chaperon’s cherubs play an integral part in his compositions by emphasizing a sensuality which is restrained in his figures. The charming conceit of depicting them as small fauns with rabbit-like ears is encountered often in Chaperon’s images. The overly developed dorsal muscles of his male fauns are also an immediately recognizable trait. Notable here too is the fairly dense treatment of the drapery in the red loincloth of the faun to the left, visible in our above listed example as well as in many engravings. Dorigny by comparison is far closer to Simon Vouet, their joint master with more dynamic compositions and an entirely different visual canon. Though the beautiful 'Pan and Syrinx' oil by Dorigny at the Louvre approaches our 'Bacchanal', its concept is of an entirely different and more evasive decorative appeal, in line with Dorigny's loyalty to Vouet (which also places the fine 'Allegory' erroneously attributed to Charles Poerson and described above outside Dorigny’s oeuvre). Though Chaperon is known so far mainly by his more somber palette, we can compare our pastel-colored painting to the large 'Ceres' in the London National Gallery whose profile though sharper shows a close resemblance with the features and the slanted eyes of the frontally facing and forward leaning bacchante to the left in our painting. Dr. Humphrey Wine of the London museum puts the relationship of that work to Chaperon in doubt, but even there the cherubs bear a close resemblance to Chaperon’s cherubs while Laveissière links its modeling and colors to the mural attributed by him to Chaperon in the Church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs in Paris. That mural though not in good shape reinforces a different aspect of Chaperon’s hand, namely an affinity to Poussin, which is also clearly seen in the figure of the faun to the left in our painting who is shown seen from the rear, an image which is obviously much indebted to the faun to the left in Poussin’s 'The Nurture of Bacchus' at the Louvre. In addition there is the very interesting description by Laveissière in the Nîmes museum catalogue of an oil sketch of ‘Venus and Amor in a Landscape’, which he attributes to Chaperon and which has passed under several names from Vouet to Dorigny, but is close to Chaperon’s manner in " le traitement du volume et des lumières, la pâte généreuse, la draperie cabossée, l'harmonie de roses et de bleu ardoise avec les terres" (in the treatment of volume and light, generous brushwork, pleated drapery and the harmony of pink, slate blue and earth tints). In fact Dr. Laveissière could have described our painting (Laveissière, page 21, color illus. Fig. A). It may well be as Laveissière has suggested about the London 'Ceres' that our canvas was meant for a decorative scheme or even as a design for a tapestry, because the large figures display a classicism unlike other works by Chaperon and with a pastel color eminently adapted to that purpose. All this proves that more exploration of Nicolas Chaperon’s works is necessary and that our large elegant painting must be part of his mature decorative style. The exuberance, the extraordinary rhythm as well as the triangular composition wherein the large figures are typically enlaced and with glances that criss-cross but do not directly engage is also found in the related, though more Vouet-esque and therefore probably somewhat earlier 'Venus, Mercury and Cupid' by Chaperon, acquired by the Louvre Museum from Christie's, New York on January 26, 2005 (lot number 24). But there the dominant color is a subtle orange-yellow, while in our painting a pinkish-red dominates, instead of the darker hues in for example the 'Drunken Silenus' in the Uffizi (which would seem like our example above of Le Faune et sa Femelle, to be datable to Chaperon's Paris period before he left for Rome). In both paintings, this 'Bacchanal' and the 'Venus Mercury and Cupid' sold at Christie's New York which is now at the Louvre as well as a charming but slightly smaller 'Diana pursuing Satyrs' at the Galerie Michel Descours in Lyon, which may well all three be part of the dispersed large decoration of the chateau de Chilly as described in the literature. Chaperon displays his love for a drapery that fluidly waves as if in a strong wind to enliven the scene, which is also notable in all of the classical seventeenth century French masters. The composition is fairly blasphemous as it mimics the Deposition of Christ and like remarked above, Chaperon's works reflect a definitive and very intereresting heathen trend in the deeply religious atmosphere of seventeenth century France.


An intriguing oil sketch attributed to Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) of Supplice ordonnée de Mézence (Torture commanded by Mezentius), oil on canvas, size 54 x 43.5 cm., sold in Paris as Entourage de Charles le Brun, Le martyre de saint Gervais et saint Protais. (Mezentius is a figure from Etruscan myth described by Virgil as an extremely cruel king who condemned his victims to death by tying them to a corpse). The attribution has tentatively been approved of by Sylvain Laveissiere. This painting is in fact described as lost and illustrated in Bénédicte Gady, L’ascension de Charles Le Brun, 2011, pages 221, 224 and 225, with three ‘preparatory’ drawings which are illustrated in Lydia Beauvais, Charles Le Brun, Inventaire général des dessins école française au Louvre , 2000, Vol. 2, no. 2838, page 814 (see below), no.2828, page 812 and no. 2826, page 812, all mentioned as dating from the first years of the 1650’s. The final painting was fully described in detail by Claude Nivelon, the pupil and admirer of Le Brun in his Vie de Charles Le Brun et déscription détaillée de ses ouvrages (The life of Charles Le Brun and a detailed description of his works) from 1690, edited by Lorenzo Pericolo in 2004, pages 127-131. What intrigued Nivelon was that Charles Le Brun had a taste for what were called enigmas, riddles to be solved by the pupils of the Jesuits in their school Collège de Clermont which still exists as Lycée Louis-le Grand in the rue Saint Jacques in Paris. It was thought that these enigmas would be instructional and in this case the solution was ”cachet” (seal) because the impression from a corpse would cause a reaction, the death of the man tied to it. There was more to this riddle because the Jesuits were in the person of the then chancellor Séguier closely involved with the Lettres de cachet signed by the king, which condemned people to imprisonment. Jennifer Montague has described in her article “Painted enigma and French seventeenth century art” (Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 31, 1968, pages 307-335), the function and appearance of these ‘enigmas’ and the final version of the painting on pages 318 and 319. The differences between this oil sketch and the more refined ‘preparatory’ drawings as Gady mentions them, makes it impossible that it would be a copy after Le Brun. Then this oil sketch would reflect those drawings which it does not. The logical and the most probable explanation is that our oil sketch is a première pensée, a quick lying down of Le Brun's thoughts for this composition, as Sylvain Kerspern has convincingly argued in Une "enigme" sort de l'ombre (an "enigma" emerges from the shadows) on his website http://www.dhistoire-et-dart.com/approche/LeBrun-Mezence.html. The more worked-out drawings were then produced afterwards for the final version, a tactic often used by Le Brun as well as other artists. The date for Le Brun’s enigma of Supplice de Mézence is said by Nivelon to be just after his return to Paris circa 1646/7, like the fine by the Metropolitan Museum in New York newly acquired “Polyxena”, which shares with our painting the curious composition from right to left as a converging arrow pointing in our case to the corpse, in the Polyxena to a funerary urn. In fact Christie’s in Paris who sold the “Polyxena” as lot 36 on 15 April, 2013, mentions in their catalogue description by Dr. Olivier Lefeuvre our sketch (still as a copy), quote: ”During these years, Le Brun also painted The Torture of Mezence, King of Etruria, for the College of the Jesuits in rue Saint-Jacques in Paris. This lost painting is now only known through an old copy and three preparatory drawings in the Louvre (B. Gady, L'Ascension de Charles Le Brun. Liens sociaux et production artistique, 2011, fig. 130, p. 224). The Sacrifice of Polyxena compares closely with that painting and shares the same vertical format and dimensions (the size of the Torture is not known but Nivelon tells us that the figures are 'life-size') and the same sense of rigorous construction and legibility inherited from Poussin”. It may well be that our oil sketch is the one mentioned in a sale of his collection of paintings, drawings and etchings by Pierre Louis Honoré Corvisart, lawyer at parliament to his colleague Jean-Baptiste Benissein recorded on January 6, 1785, which contained works by Desportes, Le Nain, Deshays etc. and in which our oil sketch is mentioned as " une esquisse de le Brun ayant pour suject 'Le Supplice de Mezence' (a sketch by le Brun, having as subject 'The cruelty of Mezence')". (Patrick Michel, "Le Commerce du tableau à Paris dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle ", Presses Universitaires 2007, page 198)


An extremely rare and very fine quality work by the late Mannerist painter Jacques de Bellange (Nancy circa 1575 - circa 1616 Nancy) of The Penitent Mary Magdalene, oil on oak panel, size 39 x 29 cm. The attribution is fully supported by Dr. Christopher Duran Comer who published and illustrated the painting as number 36 in his extensively researched 2013 catalogue raisonne of Bellange's works in PDF format. The delicacy of the superbly rendered details and the fine delineation of the figure and objects point directly to a craftsman who was also a superb engraver, for which Bellange is mainly known. Dr. Sylvain Kerspern wrote: J'ai toujours pensé que le lien avec Bellange était indéniable (I have always thought the link to Bellange was undeniable), but Le métier semble d'une souplesse que je ne retrouve pas vraiment dans les dessins ou les gravures, plus nerveux (The manner seems of a suppleness that I do not find really in the more nervous drawings or engravings) and thus by comparing it to a drawing of 'Saint Augustin' in the Bibliotheque nationale de France and to the painting of 'Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata' in Nancy places our painting fairly early in Bellange's career. Bellange mainly known through his incomparable drawings and engravings left us with only one or two paintings which have been attributed to him, namely a large and beautiful canvas of 'Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata' in Nancy and an 'Angel Gabriel' on panel in Karslruhe, an attribution that has been doubted by Jacques Thuiller (Jacques Thuiller, "Jacques de Bellange", 2001, no. RP4, page 307, illus. ) and which is an image with its rather adipose hands that seems to have far more in common with the style of another Northern Mannerist artist, Bartholomaeus Spranger (cf. Thomas Dacosta Kaufmann,"School of Prague", 1986, 'Diana' in the Budapest Museum, # 2072, pages 272/3, illus. ). However Dr. Comer accepts it as fully autograph together with its pendant in a slightly different style of 'The Virgin Mary'. Our painting is softer in manner and already predicting the flowing dramatic lines of the restless movement of the Baroque. Bellange is an elusive painter who nevertheless displays his manner in his graphic work, which shows a superbly idiosyncratic artist with a very distinctive style. His often elongated figures fill the page like a chimaera with their extraordinary appearance, voluminous waving garments and slender hands. The resemblances of Bellange's figures to the Magdalene in our painting are striking and can be easily enumerated. First of all the turned up face of the Saint is reflected in many of such faces in his works, blowsy and with a narrow cleft chin, small pursed mouth, a short nez retrousse and very expressive eyes, here with heavy under-eye swellings from crying. One observes the resemblance for example to the turned up face of a 'Female Saint with a Lance' in a little-known drawing in Rennes (Thuillier, "Bellange", no. 75, pages 286/7, illus. in color). And even more so in the face of the Virgin in a superb engraving by Bellange (see detail below) of the 'Annunciation' in the Louvre ( Worthen and Reed, "The Etchings of Jacques Bellange", exhibition catalogue Metropolitan Museum, New York 1976, no. 42, pages 66/67, illus. ). The delight in depicting the sheer diaphanous drapery of the Saint's garments slightly blown to the right is displayed often in Bellange's drawings and engravings, where the movement of these dramatize the image and they have become a trademark of the artist. There is also the notable likeness of the figure of the Magdalene in our painting to the double-sided drawing of Une Bohémienne avec deux enfants in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg (Jacques Thuillier et alia, "L'art en Lorraine au temps de Jacques Callot", Nancy 1992, nos. 81a and 81b, pages 264/265, illus.). The finely drawn and usually slender hands with spidery fingers so typical of the Lorraine School of painters are directly reflected in several works with typically the middle finger making a cross with the fourth one, the right hand clasping a breast, the left hand held lower to support drapery or here holding a crucifix. These gestures are most closely seen in the drawing of 'Saint Roch' kept at the Uffizi in Florence (Thuillier, "Bellange", no. 32, pages 184/5, illus. in color). One also notices there the characteristic twist of the body that resembles that of the Magdalene in our painting. What differs in our painting are the heavy breasts of the Saint, because almost all of Bellange's female figures have typically high placed small breasts above narrow waists. But then Mary Magdalene is emblematic of a sensual femininity, lacking in images of the Virgin but entirely logical here. Thuillier lists under Les oeuvres disparus (Thuillier, "Bellange", page 301) two lost paintings of Mary Magdalene dating from 1603 and 1604, a subject matter of which he writes that there were several examples by Bellange. Both of these were painted for the duke of Lorraine, one a large canvas, the other of a different format dating from 1604. Dr. Comer compares the dating of our painting to the drawing of a 'Female Saint with a Lance' in Rennes, mentioned above which as he writes: "is quite loose and elegant and brushy and the physiognomical type is remarkably similar (to our painting) , particularly in the structure of the eye" and mentions the technique of scumbling (softening color or outline by a semi-opaque glaze), combined with a paint-loaded brush (representing dry and wet techniques) as typical of the artist's experimental mindset. He places that drawing because of its blue wash slightly earlier but close to the group of drawings of 'Gardeners' of about 1613. Because so little was known as yet about Bellange's paintings, Pierre Rosenberg who attributed the Karlsruhe painting to Bellange, did not rule out an attribution to Georges Lallemand, another early seventeenth century Lorraine painter (1595-1665), an idea which also seemed possible to Keith Christiansen. Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht however, who is studying Georges Lallemand in depth at present finds that "la Maddalena non e di Lallemand, secondo me, e giusto invece darla a Bellange. Lallemand e meno ambiguo, perverso, la sua fattura e piu decisa, dura..." (the Magdalene is according to me not by Lallemand, and instead correctly to be given to Bellange. Lallemand is less ambiguous, perverse, his manner is more decisive, harder). Christopher Wright writes in a letter dated April 8, 2014: "From the image the attribution seems obvious and that it is interesting to note what Paola Bassani Pacht had to say - after all such pictures were to be influential on Vignon in his later years back in France. It is also interesting that the work is small in scale - not so very different from the scale of the etching by Bellange of the Annunciation where the figure is so similar ! As for the possible dating - all dating of things in this period is tricky as there are so few fixed paintings to reference but as the etching is dated circa 1613 by the etching experts this picture would then come from approximately the same date".


An art-historically interesting and elegant autograph replica of a May from 1705 depicting Saint Paul recevant les adieux des prêtres éphésiens (Saint Paul bid farewell by the Ephesians) by Louis Galloche (1670-1761), oil on canvas, size 92 x 73 cm. The Mays were large religious scenes, 3.60 meters high (about 141.5 inches) commissioned by members of the Paris gold and silver smiths’ guild, called La Confrérie Sainte-Anne des orfèvres parisiens to be hung inside the cathedral of Notre Dame starting in the year 1449 after the One Hundred Years war when the people of Paris were exhausted and needed moral and religious rehabilitation. The May paintings were exhibited before the Notre Dame and then hung inside, but the first examples which were of smaller format are now lost. Thus the earliest still extant date from about 1630 and their name originates indeed from the month of Mai or May, which is a time of renewal and rebirth dedicated to the veneration of the Virgin. The payment was a generous 400 livres (about 10,000 dollars). The painters were expected to make copies of their May entry for the two members of the guild who commissioned the large version for the cathedral. Ours is one of these and the procedure is fully described in the excellent small catalogue of Les Mays de Notre Dame de Paris edited by Annick Notter in 1999 for the Arras museum. The greatest French artists of the period were given this commission and it must have been a very prestigious task. Several of these large Mays have been preserved in the Arras museum where they were sent after the Revolution when the religious symbols were destroyed or dispersed, but the large May of 1705 by Galloche is kept at the Louvre (illustrated in Notter on page 100, as number 76 and described on page 94 and listed in 1763 - see below). Louis Galloche was the last link between the grand style of Le Brun and the more intimate one of the eighteenth century and he had a great reputation during his lifetime which waned over time. This elegant work forms thus an accurate ricordo of Galloche's 1705 entry which was unlike several large Mays not returned to the Notre Dame.


This very appealing and lightly brushed Allegory of The Three Sister Arts, Sculpture, Painting and Architecture by the Italian neo-classical sculptor, painter and architect Antonio Canova (1775-1825), oil on canvas, size 74.5 x 61 cm. was fully authenticated and extensively described in an article ‘The Sister Arts, a pictorial Allegory’ published in 1991 by the eminent Italian art historian and Canova expert Dr. Gian Lorenzo Mellini (1935-2002), formerly at the University of Turin. The article was reproduced as a chapter in Mellini's book ‘Canova: saggi di filologia e di ermeneutica ’ (Canova, essays on philology and hermeneutics), Milan, 1999, p. 87/89 with a color illustration on page 29 and a black and white illustration on page 213. Prof. Mellini makes a close comparison of our painting with that of "Alexander offering Campaspe to the painter Apelles", illustrated in his book in color on page 91 and on page 209 in black and white and he describes it in an article from 1988 and in this book in a chapter called: 'Canova, painter between antiquity and modernity' (pages 72-78) with a mention of our closely comparable "Allegory of the Arts" on page 84. A heavenly cherub, disguised as Amor descends on a cloud to present to each of the Arts a golden laurel crown, though the more sumptuously clad and adorned Painting is favored, standing between Sculpture and Architecture. Dr. Mellini mentions the extinguished torch of Amor on the grass as indicating that any erotic intrusions are not relevant in honoring the Three Arts. The composition refers of course to the celebrated sculpture of the Three Muses by Canova, though here the composition opens up frontally to the viewer and is interrupted by the winged cherub. Dr. Mellini points out that the hairstyles of the three female figures are from the Restoration period after Napoleon, thus the painting’s date is probably post-1815. They are depicted on the banks of a wide river with on the other side a long row of poplars which points to a Northern Italian setting of probably the river Brenta and the city of Bassano del Grappa with the Asolani hills in the distance. Canova’s birthplace the small town of Possagno in the Veneto became the focus of Canova’s architectural works with his Temple wherein his tomb is located, while the nearby town of Bassano became the locus of the Canova museum. In it is kept a 1806 composition of the "The Dance of the Three Graces with an Amor" (mixed media, 65.5 x 60.6 cm.) (see below), which shows Canova's cathexis of depicting Amor (love) with the three female Graces or rather here with the three feminized Arts. This is enforced by the drawings Canova made and which are kept in the Canova Museum in Bassano. The figure of Painting leans on Sculpture which translated into the language of the painting means that she may be influenced by Sculpture’s forms but she remains well apart from Sculpture, a typical trait of Canova’s independent pictorial designs which Dr. Mellini extensively discusses in this chapter. The coils of her diaphanous veil blown in the wind above and beyond are directly related to the veil floating in the wind above a seated Muse in a drawing kept at Bassano and even reminiscent of the agitated robes of the figure of Eternity in the Deposition in Possagno. Painting caresses Amor with her left hand in a touching gesture as if especially thankful for the honor of the golden laurel crown he has first extended to her.



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