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L’Écriture deciphered

Liotard EcritureThose of you who saw the Liotard exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2015 will not have forgotten one of the finest exhibits – the stunning pastel of a young man writing with a boy in attendance holding a candle.[1] It was sold to Maria Theresia in 1762, ten years after it was painted, and so its permanent home is now Vienna. Its connection with the famous Déjeuner Lavergne (J.49.1795: see my post) of 1754 is obvious, despite the two-year interval between their execution: the visual evidence is overwhelmingly that the latter was conceived as a pendant, and this is confirmed by the advertisement in the London Public advertiser that I reproduced in the earlier post. There is no doubt either that the Déjeuner was executed during a trip to Lyon in 1754 – indeed another Lavergne family portrait was done there in 1746 – as there is other corroborative evidence of Liotard’s visits to his sister and her family: Sara Liotard had married the négociant François Lavergne in Geneva before they settled in Lyon. All this is rehearsed in my previous post, so I won’t repeat it here.

I might add that the abbé Pernetty, whose portrait by Liotard was also made in 1754, returned the compliment by mentioning the artist as well as “Mrs Lavergne, établis ici, & connus par leurs talens” in his Les Lyonnois digne de mémoire (1757, p. 255). The MM. Lavergne were of course François, who died in 1752; his eldest son Jean (1715–1776), also described as a négociant on his burial certificate (most sources incorrectly thought he had died in 1729); and the son shown in L’Écriture, Jacques-Antoine (1724–1781), described as a banquier on his (but the professions were not much different). Although that document gives nothing away, Marie-Félicie Perez published a note in Genava in 1997 with an entry from the unpublished manuscript diary[2] of the abbé Duret in which he reveals that Jacques-Antoine committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window. No one knows why – Perez checked for a declaration of bankruptcy, but could find nothing.

Nor frankly does any of the Liotard literature tell us anything of the biography of this young man. Indeed earlier authors spotting the book whose title, L’Art d’aimer et de plaire, is so carefully shown in the pastel concluded he must be a poet, and identified the sitter as Pierre-Joseph Bernard who published a book called L’Art d’aimer – but failed to notice that it didn’t appear until 1775, and that in 1752 Gentil-Bernard (as he was known) was already 44. (Indeed of Liotard’s two nephews, it is the apparent age of the sitter that identifies him as Jacques-Antoine (28 in 1752) rather than his brother Jean – not dead, but at 36 too old.) Of course that doesn’t mean that Liotard’s sitter didn’t also have literary aspirations: it’s just that, until now, no one has produced any evidence. Was he then just a boring banker?

And as for the boy, predictably described as the nephew’s nephew in some sources, and therefore named Clarence (as the girl in the Déjeuner as previously thought to be), that is far from certain (but it was not impossible that he could be the Pierre Clarenc [sic] who was married in Puylaurens in 1771, but whose age is uncertain). But I’m inclined in this case to believe Liotard when he calls the boy a “laquais”, and I don’t think he’d so describe a member of his family.[2a]

L’Écriture, as the 1752 pastel is known, is signed and dated with the year – but not the place. And while everyone assumes it was made on a trip to Lyon, that might not necessarily be correct. If Jacques-Antoine went to Paris, which he might well have done, then the boy would almost certainly be unrelated. On the other hand, if you think that he is the same child as in the L’Enfant à la bougie (J.49.2441) that I published a few years ago (also reproduced in my Déjeuner post), he probably did come from Lyon, as that pastel was reported (again by the abbé Duret, as spotted by Perez) in 1781 as having previously being bought by Mme de Flesselles for her husband, the intendant de Lyon from 1767 on. Roethlisberger & Loche inferred from the subject matter that it might belong to the period of L’Écriture, and with the image I found I concur. So it’s possible that it was left with the Lavergne family in Lyon and it was only disposed of between 15 and 30 years later.

So far virtually everything I’ve repeated here is known – and it’s not very much. The diary of Jean-Jacques Juventin which I recently added as a postscript to my Déjeuner post talks only about the Lavergne ladies, and tells us nothing of the men. Nor, despite its usual encyclopaedic coverage, does Lüthy (La Banque protestante…) even mention the firm. There’s a tiny snippet in a letter[3] from Louis-Michel Vanloo’s sister, Marie-Anne Vanloo Berger, from Paris, 20 April 1757, to his partners Antoine Rey and Barthélemy Magneval, merchants in Lyon, describing how she had missed M. Lavergne who had called that morning, and promising if he returned to receive him as well as she could as he was their friend. At least this proves that Lavergne travelled to Paris occasionally – but that is hardly surprising for a négociant.

But I recently noticed a source which as far as I can see has been completely overlooked in the Liotard literature: Voltaire’s correspondence.[4]

There are no Voltaire letters directly to the Lavergnes, but several to his other friends give their name (as “Lavergne père et fils” etc. – no first names ever appear) as an accommodation address. But there are two letters with specific information. In one (8 May 1773) to Joseph Vesselier, a poet and writer whose day-job was with the Lyon post office, Voltaire noted that “un de ces Lavergne … joue parfaitement la comédie”. In a letter to Trudaine de Montigny (12 April 1776), then travelling to Nice, he adds more:

J’avais un ami genevois qui s’appelle Lavergne, excellent auteur, dit on, dans les comédies de société. Il était malade à Lyon et désespérait de sa vie, il est allé à Nice et y a recouvré la santé. Je ne sais s’il y est encore, et s’il a eu le bonheur de vous faire sa cour.

Tantalisingly Voltaire doesn’t identify which of the Lavergne men this amateur actor, writer and invalid might have been. Was it our Jacques-Antoine, or his elder brother Jean?

To answer that I found another report – a 1773 account of the health-giving properties of the thermal waters not at Nice, but at Aix, by the celebrated doctor Joseph Daquin (who was best known for his work in psychiatry). Here it is in full, although the crucial part is the age: Jacques-Antoine would have been 48 or so, near enough 50, while his brother was eight years older:

Analyse_des_eaux_thermales_d'Aix-en-Savoie_[...]Daquin_Joseph_bpt6k5853688n_150

Analyse_des_eaux_thermales_d'Aix-en-Savoie_[...]Daquin_Joseph_bpt6k5853688n_151

From the age I infer that this was more likely the younger brother. The condition described was severe enough to merit Voltaire’s description of a man despairing of life, particularly if after the cure the symptoms returned. That rather than financial failure might well have led to his suicide.

But Voltaire’s description has even more pertinent information that goes directly to the pastel: the writer is indeed a writer. The sense of intelligence with which he ponders his material is real. If any of his work was ever published it was certainly not under his own name, but his interests were plainly in plays. What then can we make of the carefully planted copy of L’art d’aimer et de plaire, hitherto assumed to be purely fanciful?

M119_02_R118_163rI had previously identified it as the subtitle of a play called Zélide, but that was only published in 1755 and the dates still don’t quite work. It was written by one Jean-Julien-Constant Rénout, who was secrétaire du duc de Gesvres (the duc had commissioned Pierre Mérelle to copy Liotard’s portraits of the royal princesses in 1751). But although not premiered until 1755,[5] there was apparently an earlier performance of Zélide at the comte de Clermont’s château de Berny, probably by an amateur cast. (Liotard’s pastel of the comte de Clermont was recorded in the artist’s posthumous inventory.) It is of course sheer speculation, but might Jacques-Antoine, who played “parfaitement la comédie”, have had an advance manuscript copy for amateur use?

[1] L’Écriture is J.49.1763 in the online Dictionary of pastellists, where as usual full details can be found (just put the J number into the search box and follow the link to the pdf).

[2] In the municipal library at Lyon.

[2a] [Postscript:] I am grateful to Chris Bryant who has pointed out that the boy’s coat, with its braided edging, is servant’s livery.

[3] Georges Guigue, Vanloo négociant, 1902, p. 24.

[4] The easiest way to consult this is via the Electronic Enlightenment website, so the dates alone will find the passages I mention. One of Voltaire’s correspondents was the pasteur Jacques Vernes (also a friend of Rousseau) who married Jacques-Antoine’s 18-year-old niece Marie-Françoise Clarenc in 1759; she died later that year.

[5] To a mixed reception: in a letter from Claude-Pierre Patu to David Garrick written from Passy, 23 August 1755, he notes that it had “Assez d’esprit, peu de justesse, style haché, mauvais tour de vers.” The extract from the Comédie-Française’s register show the receipts for the double bill on 26 June 1755.

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Super omnes docentes se intellexit…

La Tour Auto Amiens ScaledThose are the words inscribed on the old frame of the famous La Tour Autoportrait au jabot now in Amiens (left). They are not directly from Psalm 119 (no. 118 in the Vulgate), but from St Augustine’s commentary, where the authorial voice (“me intellexi”) is turned into the third person. The King James version of verse 99 is: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.”

I’ve been meditating quite a lot about this picture (and some testimonies about it) in the context of preparing my La Tour catalogue. The standard approach is to lock yourself away for many years and release the final product on paper. I’m trying to do this differently, sharing the work as I go, as you can find in the various documents on my website indexed from here. Sometimes I release a fairly final version (corrections are always welcome!) of my thinking, as in my recent entry on the portrait of Mme de Pompadour, which perhaps I should have shared on this blog. But the present portrait (or rather, group of versions of it) raises many issues which I haven’t fully resolved, and so the blog is the best possible way to share the puzzles and open the discussion before I go nap on the definitive cataloguing. You’ll see why if you read to the end. As much of the intermediate workings are rather detailed, skip straight to the end if you want.

Everyone will be aware that there are several versions of the Autoportrait au jabot (and at least ten later copies that make no further appearance in this post are listed in my online Dictionary of pastellists in the La Tour self-portraits article), and that one of them was supposed to be the one La Tour exhibited at the Salon in 1750 when he tricked his younger rival by placing it next to the pastel of La Tour himself that Perronneau had made – probably (or itself perhaps a version of) the pastel now in Saint-Quentin:

Perronneau La Tour SQ

Too much has already been written on the respective merits of the two portraits. But while the mirror compositions suggest that the La Tour self-portrait, of all the known types, was surely that “au jabot” (rather than say the “oeil-de-bœuf” or “chapeau en clabaud” etc. types); that the specific work was that in Amiens (reproduced at the top of this post: no. J.46.1128) has rather been deduced from the fact that it is larger than the other versions assumed to be autograph, those in the musée Cognacq-Jay (J.46.113: left below) and in the Norton Simon Museum (J.46.1132: right below). Horridly I’m going to refer to these pastels as Amiens, CJ and NS.

This isn’t assisted by some erroneous conflations and confusions in the literature, so that, for example, Besnard & Wildenstein 1928 (p. 149) records Amiens as having a note on the back stating that it was made in 1751 – a year after the salon in which it was assumed to have been shown. (That label in fact belongs to a version sold in 1867 which it turns out is not the Amiens pastel at all; I list it as J.46.1131.) Among dozens of other errors in the literature I will mention here just two more: the date inscribed on the back of NS is 1754, not 1764 as usually reported; while CJ, contrary to Mme Burollet (Pastels et dessins, 2008, p. 139), was not the one from the Laperlier collection sold in 1879, lot 52 (that was NS) – CJ has no secure provenance before Pierre Decourcelle who sold it in 1911.

It was while I was trying to resolve the 1750/1751 confusion that I began to look harder at the questions these versions raise. I am most grateful to the curators at Amiens and Pasadena for providing imaging and documents that I discuss below. I should also remind readers about the usual important notice about attributions being subjective etc., and record the fact that the provisional suggestions I make below are not endorsed by other experts.

Before we get into the documents or delve further into the literature (even recent publications remain hopelessly confused), what can be said of the visual appearance of the principal versions? My own belief, before the recent discoveries, was that CJ was the best, showing all La Tour’s brilliance and inventiveness, while remaining an autograph replica of Amiens, which “must” be the one shown in 1750. I was a little surprised on the several occasions I saw it (in the musée de Picardie, Amiens and most recently in Orléans, when it was lent to the 2017 Perronneau exhibition) that Amiens seemed underwhelming for the mythology attached to the 1750 competition: as I wrote in a recent (but before the discovery at the end of this post) private email to a curator, “The Amiens pastel is not entirely happy: the jabot always struck me as a little pedestrian, while the shadows on the underside of the arms I find particularly perplexing.” (The shadows consist in some odd strokes of heavy black pastel.) But not to the point of questioning Amiens being autograph. Nor as far as I am aware has it been questioned by any other art historian, despite extended discussions in numerous sources (see the Dictionary entry for the full literature): thus for Debrie & Salmon 2000, it is “une œuvre essentielle”; while, in his préface to Dominique d’Arnoult’s Perronneau monograph of 2014, Xavier Salmon was even more emphatic, writing that the La Tour pastel exhibited in 1750 was “très certainement celui aujourd’hui conservé au musée de Picardie à Amiens, œuvre magistrale de psychologie et de maîtrise technique.”

CJ is smaller than Amiens in that the lower part of the bust is cut off; there is still space above the head. It is highly finished, with a superb sense of modelling which you can perhaps see most easily in the structure of the eye socket. The handling is relatively free – La Tour recreates effects rather than repeating each stroke exactly – just what I’d hope to find in an autograph replica.

NS (which I have not examined de visu, let alone side by side with the others – something which is not likely to be possible) caused me some concerns in the way it followed Amiens. While sticking to more or less the size of CJ, the figure is moved up so more of the bust shows, with less space above the head (see my scaled composite):

La Tour Autoportraits au jabot Amiens CJ NS

NS then imitates the exact composition of Amiens far more closely – for example, the angle of the arm, which in CJ is allowed to drop vertically, follows the angle of Amiens exactly: indeed the top of the hand placed in the waistcoat is still included, although it now makes little sense and might comfortably have been omitted had the artist allowed himself the same freedom as taken in CJ. There are differences too in the eyes: those in CJ engage us directly; those in Amiens and NS both seem slightly to veer off to the left. (You might think this an error in Amiens, corrected in CJ, so it is odd to find them repeated in NS.) More obviously the technique differs, in the face in particular, with a network of hatching in place of the finished appearance of CJ and much more prominent than in Amiens (although this isn’t immediately evident from the photography which makes the hatching on Amiens more prominent than I recall from direct examination). But elsewhere there is a very precise replication of each chalk stroke in Amiens: it is perhaps too close (in a way that is found in some otherwise excellent copies of other La Tour pastels).

La Tour Autoportraits au jabot Visages Amiens CJ NS

I’m not worried about the appearance of these visible strokes on the flesh, per se; La Tour adopted this technique frequently, particularly in portraits intended for connoisseurs who he thought would be more receptive to the brilliance of these strokes which require to be viewed from a specific distance, while the general public found them too sophisticated. Perhaps the most extreme example of this heavy hatching is the pastel of Chardin in the Louvre (J.46.1436) from the 1761 salon. There are other examples from the mid-1750s – and, to make this problem even more tricky, there is very little sense of a chronological progression in La Tour’s technique that allows one to say that he used a specific technique at a particular time.

So it doesn’t follow that he came back to the Amiens pastel and made a replica say 14 years later in a different technique than the one he would have used say in 1750. You can’t even say that he wouldn’t make two versions in different techniques at the same time. But I can see why one would like to propose different dates for NS and Amiens and CJ, to help explain away the differences. Because of course the question is whether these are autograph versions. Normally the effect of these vigorous hatchings in the master’s hand is to make the portrait come to life. Judging from the photograph of NS I don’t have that immediate response. There seems to be a flatness to the modelling compared with the other versions that is surprising. Further the best of La Tour’s heavily hatched faces have an irregularity and energy I don’t see in NS. One shouldn’t attach too much importance to a single example, but putting the face in NS against a similar detail from his Chardin shows how differently he used this hatched technique:

La Tour auto NS v Chardin Louvre visages

Time now to broach the various inscriptions on the works. The reason we know it is NS rather than CJ that was in the Laperlier sale is because his 1879 sale catalogue mentions verses on the back by the abbé Violette, a priest in Saint-Quentin – just the sort of thing which makes you believe there is a continuous provenance back to the artist. So we have to look at that.

Although it wasn’t easy to find Violette’s biography, I can tell you (after a lengthy search of parish records) that he was abbé Charles-Théodore Violette (1737–1815), curé de Notre-Dame de Saint-Quentin, and a member of the Assemblée provinciale in 1787. So clearly it would be significant if NS turns out to have belonged to Violette.

As it happens there is rather a lot of writing on several different sheets pasted to the backing card of NS. There is a central panel in a mid-nineteenth century formal hand, with La Tour’s qualities and honours transcribed precisely from the title page of the abbé Duplaquet’s 1789 Éloge historique de La Tour:

Portrait
de M. Maurice-Quentin Delatour, Peintre
du Roi, Conseiller de l’Académie Royale de Peinture & de Sculpture
de Paris, et Honoraire de l’Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres,
et Arts d’Amiens, Fondateur de l’Ecole Royale gratuite de Dessin,
de la Ville de Saint-Quentin.
Peint par lui-même, en 1754

The “Peint par lui-même, en 1754” comes from this label alone. The writing is quite clear: 1754, not 1764.

The rest of the writing appears to come from a different, probably single, hand, but appears on two sheets. The lower sheet contains, on the left, an epitaph in Latin which I find extremely difficult to decipher. I suspect the Latin isn’t very good, but the text seems to echo the sentiments of the French verses below. Very broadly translated, it seems to mean:

This dust is mixed with the dust of Apelles, citizen of the Seine [“Sequana”] and citizen of the Somme [“Summa”]; they were astonished to find La Tour [“turreum”] under the soil; but his excellence and his mighty deeds will resound.

To the right are the abbé Violette’s verses which have been partially transcribed in several publications (but not the three lines at the bottom, which are critical):

Vers pour mettre au bas du portrait.

citoyen de la Somme, Apelle de la Seine,
de La Tour, dans ces traits, c’est bien toi ressemblant:
c’est ta bouche, tes yeux, ce rire caressant
qui vers toi tous les cœurs entraîne.
pour bien peindre le tien, ton âme, tes vertus,
bienfaisance, candeur, esprit, talens, droiture,
dons rares que te fit largement la Nature,
il faudrait toi, mais tu n’es plus!

L’inscription manuscrite, l’épitaphe et
et les vers français sont de M. Violette cure
de Notre-Dame de St quentin

As I read these, I don’t think the writing can be that of Violette himself. While sometimes people refer to themselves in the third person, that really doesn’t fit here, and he would probably have signed if it was his own writing. The verses themselves must have been composed after the artist’s death, but the inscription could have been transcribed by anyone who had found it at any time in the nineteenth century or later. It isn’t even sure that they were intended for this version – they could equally have been intended for the Amiens version, or indeed any other La Tour self-portrait (or any portrait of La Tour at all).

After La Tour’s death there were memorials (such as Duplaquet’s éloge, cited directly on the label), epitaphs and statues etc., so there were many occasions for the local curate to produce some verses of this kind. (For the very complicated events concerning La Tour’s death and burial at Saint-Quentin, see my La Tour documentation. The two witnesses were La Tour’s half-brother Jean-François de La Tour and the latter’s cousin, Adrien-Joseph-Constant Duliège, who as it happens was vicaire at Violette’s church of Notre-Dame. We met him in my last post, on La Tour’s brother and the letters that had descended to Mme Sarrazin.) But I don’t think that Violette was ever the owner of the pastel: the words could have been added later by anyone coming across his verses – perhaps even taken from another version.

But it turns out that there is more to learn from the upper panel, apparently in the same hand, which appears to contain some innocuous biographical information:

Maurice Quentin de la Tour,
Né à St Quentin, le 4 7bre 1704,
revenu audit lieu le 26 Juin 1784,
ou il est mort et enterré au cimetière
de la Paroisse de St André, le 18
février 1788 –

Again these appear to be facts which would have been well known to anyone in Saint-Quentin throughout the nineteenth century or later. (The 26 Juin 1784 date is difficult to read; the month is correct, but the day should be 20 June according to other documents you can find in my chronological table of documents http://www.pastellists.com/Misc/LaTour_chronology.pdf.) The inscription gives La Tour’s date of birth as 4 September rather than 5: such confusions are common in a Catholic country where children were usually baptised the day after their birth, although in La Tour’s case he was born and baptised on the 5th.

The significance is that the same mistake, and in fact exactly the same inscription, word for word (perhaps with misreadings: “revenue audit lieu le 21 juin 1784” and mort… “le 18 fev. 1783”), followed by “peint par lui-meme”, appear on the back of a miniature version of the autoportrait purporting to be by La Tour. At the time when it was described by Auguste Jal in his biographical dictionary, 1872 (sub verbo La Tour) it belonged to the princesse Mathilde (whom the Goncourt brothers derided for her susceptibility to fakes), and came from Aimable-Pierre-Joseph Opigez (1802–1881), a literary figure whose father and brother were alarmingly makers and retailers of objets d’art. It’s now lost (unless it corresponds with one in the musée Antoine-Lécuyer at Saint-Quentin: their two miniatures have no earlier provenance but I am investigating if we can tie them in). But as we know La Tour didn’t do miniatures.

The question however is whether this precise inscription taints the NS pastel or merely identifies it as the source of a later fake. It’s rather long to fit onto a miniature of normal dimensions. The possibilities include: (i) a common source for both NS and the miniature; (ii) the miniature copied from NS, or vice versa; (iii) Jal mistakenly referring to the princesse’s picture as a miniature when perhaps it was NS: but if so how did it get from her collection to Laperlier? (I couldn’t find either a pastel or miniature of La Tour in her posthumous sale in 1904.)

Having discarded the Violette provenance, the first certain sighting of NS is in the Laperlier sale of 1879 where the Violette verses are first mentioned. It is very probable that either NS or CJ is the pastel which belonged to Symphorien Boittelle (1813–1897), sous-préfet for Saint-Quentin before becoming préfet for the Aisne département, and later sénateur; in his sale at Paris, 24–25.iv.1866, Lot 70, not reproduced, is described as in a “light” blue coat, dimensions 44×35 cm. Boittelle’s collection was of mixed quality, and this was in one of a number of lifetime sales. The pastel reappeared with Jacques Reiset: his posthumous sale describes it as coming from the Boittelle collection, so it is no doubt the same. Both these sale prices were very modest, but that was a question of fashion rather than an indication of quality.

There was another sale in between, Paris, Drouot, Delbergue-Cormont, 8.xi.1867, where a pastel Lot 146 was sold, said to be dated on the back 1751 (although 1750 is mentioned in the preface), which all sources to date have identified as the Amiens version: the pastel is described but no size was given. It was said to be in a nice frame “en bois sculpté” (as CJ still is, while NS has been reframed). Although Amiens’s then frame was a fairly standard moulding which probably wouldn’t have been so described, and while its owners were attempting to sell it at that stage, a detailed analysis of the provenance shows that it cannot have been sold in the 1867 sale. (It is most probable that the vendor in 1867 was Sosthène-Louis-Félix Cambray (1819–1905), homme de lettres and a prolific collector and seller of drawings and prints. He might well have purchased Boittelle’s pastel. Although the commissaire-priseur’s copy of the 1867 catalogue shows Fr650 annotated against lot 146, it is not included in the list of bordereaux also bound into the same copy. However on the sheet opposite the lot is recorded “c.600 Lap.400 Gautier 300”, suggesting that Laperlier may well have bid, and perhaps bought it post sale, so this may well be NS – except for the 1751 date reported in the catalogue.)

In brief the 1867 pastel cannot be the pastel I’m calling Amiens because the musée de Picardie purchased that work (to which we now need to turn) in 1878 from the Lorne family who had owned it since 1796. It is true that the art critic Léon Lagrange had seen it around 1866 when the heirs of a previous generation were keen to sell, but it was not in fact sold then. I will spare you all the detailed steps from the 1770 gift of the pastel (recorded on another label pasted to the back of the work) by one Mlle Mangenot to the abbé Savary (he was Charles Savary (1731–1810), curé de Sainte-Colombe-lès-Sens) and its purchase in 1796 by François-Théodore-Clément Lorne (1768–1854), commerçant en gros de sel à Sens, who, the previous year, had married Savary’s niece but subsequently left it to his widow, his second wife: hours of harmless fun were required to establish these details, when of course, as Mme du Deffand would have told us, it is only the first step that counts: how it came into the hands of Marie-Louise Mangenot (1702–1782).

That takes us to her brother: the abbé Louis Mangenot (1694–1768), chanoine du Temple à Paris, poet, journalist, and great friend of the salon critic Philippe Bridard de La Garde who wrote so gushingly of La Tour’s later submissions. Mangenot was also the intimate friend of another La Tour subject, the playwright Crébillon (who made Mangenot his heir). Marie-Louise was probably the sister who was described in Palissot’s Nécrologe as“fort dévote”, but who “tyrannisait” her brother.

Most of the printed sources record Mlle Mangenot’s label, but only a few – notably Bitton 1936, which has been almost entirely overlooked – make the connection with her brother. Yet the abbé Mangenot does appear in the standard La Tour literature – as the author of yet more verses to be attached to a La Tour self-portrait:

Admirez jusqu’où l’art atteint
La Tour est gravé comme il peint…

Cited by Louis Hordret (Histoire des droits anciens… de la ville de Saint-Quentin, 1781), they were attached erroneously by B&W to the Autoportrait au chapeau en clabaud (J.46.1087). As that was only engraved by Schmidt in 1772 (after Mangenot’s death), it is however far more likely they were intended for the earlier Autoportrait à l’oeil de boeuf (J.46.1001), exhibited in 1737 and engraved by Schmidt in 1742. It of course, unlike the other self-portraits, does show the artist in his working clothes.

What this shows however is that Mangenot was indeed close to La Tour, followed his self-portraits etc. So there is nothing surprising in his owning one (except perhaps that there is no evidence that he had the means to pay for a major work by the artist). And one that he owned must be “right” in the sense that ones only traceable back to the mid-nineteenth century might not be – so that investigations such as opening the back and looking for anachronistic irregularities in the mounting of the pastel and canvas on the strainer etc. (often the easiest way to detect later fakes, of which there are sadly many in the La Tour catalogues) would be unnecessary (indeed pointless).

This is where things stood until a few days ago. While writing up my entries I investigated Mangenot more thoroughly, and came across this article in the Mercure de France, published in the edition for May 1755 (pp. 26-27). As far as I am aware it is completely unknown to art historians: indeed the only secondary reference I have been able to find (although not linked to Amiens, nor naming the copyist) is in the very useful Dictionnaire des journalistes in the entry on Mangenot (who would later edit the Mercure himself: it was then in hands of Louis de Boissy):

Mangenot La Tour Montjoie Mercure 1755

The footnote is, to say the least, astonishing. Unambiguously it identifies the La Tour portrait given to Mangenot as a copy by his pupil Jean-Gabriel Montjoie. Although he was mentioned in La Tour’s will and believed to be a pupil, recorded as an exhibitor in some minor events, virtually nothing was known about Montjoie’s biography until I unearthed some documents three years ago which are summarised in my Dictionary entry. Despite appearing in the Salon de la jeunesse in 1767 and later, he had in fact been born in 1725. But the surviving work, with one exception, all belonged to the 1780s or 90s, thirty years after Amiens. The one in the Louvre exhibited last year probably gives a fair account of his work: it was, I think we can agree, one of the weakest works in the show. The only earlier work I have found (J.543.11) is signed and dated 1768 – still some 15 years after the copy he made for Mangenot:

Montjoie H 1768 Turin23iv2015 L208

One isn’t likely to confuse this with the work of his master.

How do we make sense of all this? There are I think only two realistic logical possibilities, given that Amiens clearly belonged to Mangenot: either he subsequently acquired the original; or the Amiens pastel is indeed the copy Montjoie made for Mangenot as celebrated in the poem.

I’m not sure that either of these hypotheses will meet with universal approval. The first seems at best contrived, and raises all sorts of difficulties: why, having been given a version with which he was satisfied, would he seek to acquire the original – hardly likely that the artist would have made him a second present, so how could he afford it, and what did he do with the Montjoie copy? (The Lorne family papers make it quite clear that the abbé Savary had only this pastel, and 17 framed prints.)

The second requires us all to admit we were wrong in accepting Amiens as autograph. (The La Tour original, exhibited in 1750, must be lost – perhaps another work La Tour destroyed himself, or just still hidden away?) It requires us to reassess Montjoie’s competence. But is that such a step? Not only was Amiens made far earlier, when Montjoie was 30 years old and presumably at the peak of his skills; but it was also made under La Tour’s direction, and possibly with a good deal of assistance from the master. And the crucial fact we so easily forget is that it is far easier for artists to make brilliant copies of masterpieces than to create independent works of the same quality: we see this all the time in the pastiches and copies that flood the salerooms.

Do however look at the strange black shadows around the waistcoat buttonholes in the 1768 Montjoie. Isn’t that what troubled me about the arm in Amiens?

LaTour v Montjoie

To sum up, provisionally at least. I’m quite happy that CJ is a fully autograph replica by La Tour. I have some doubts about NS which may nevertheless be fine: if at some stage it is opened for conservation I shall be interested in what can be seen, but I certainly wouldn’t reject it outright. Amiens in contrast, and to my surprise, seems to raise real difficulties: despite its quality, the conclusion from the Mercure footnote is hard to evade. Whatever assistance La Tour may have given, this appears to be the work of his pupil – you can only escape this by believing in a rather convoluted alternative narrative. The absence of the version shown in 1750, of which Amiens is no doubt a very precise copy, makes the classification of NS rather trickier as we cannot be sure how closely either followed the original.

Jean-François, chevalier de La Tour…

An. Jean Franc ois de La Tour SQ LT81 FlBr107…is the answer to Monday’s puzzle. Half-brother of the pastellist, he owned the collection of Maurice-Quentin’s works that are now to be found in the musée Antoine-Lécuyer at Saint-Quentin (where you can also find his portrait, left – anonymous French school – which may also inform your reaction to his letters). Had he married the lady in question, whose identity remains unknown (apart from the initials Ad. D. with which one of her letters is signed), who knows what might have happened to the collection which he bequeathed to his native city in his will? That story has been told repeatedly, and of course can be followed in my annotated table of La Tour documents which I have now updated to include the correspondence which was published by Charles Desmaze in Travaux de la Société académique de Saint-Quentin (xii, 1875, pp. 310–38), but subsequently overlooked by everyone. Desmaze left these letters to the museum, but they are thought to have been destroyed in the war. We have only therefore his printed text (unfortunately he arranged the documents in no order, and attached some sheets to the wrong letters, which is why I had to update my first blog when I found another description of the young widow before the chevalier wrote to her).

There (or I hope better arranged in my table) you can find the few names I have suppressed: the initial letter came from a person Desmaze identifies only as Mme Durosoy de Lépidor: she was in fact Marie-Thérèse Du Rozoi, third wife of Michel-Julien Mathieu dit Lépidor (1740–p.1799); they had married in 1784. A juge de paix, and former secrétaire du chevalier de Luxembourg, Lépidor was the younger son of the composer and musicien du roi Michel Mathieu, and himself composed several operas and some chamber music: very much the world the pastellist loved.

But perhaps the trickiest puzzle (apart from Ad. D.) concerns how Desmaze obtained the letters. They included a number, such as these, that B&W did print. But all Desmaze reveals was that he was given the letters by “Madame Sarrazin-Varluzel-de-Cessières” [sic]; in another reference Desmaze refers to her as “Mme Sarazin V. Varluzel, 10, rue de Chabrol, à Paris” (does the V. mean veuve?), while in a third Desmaze tells us that “Mme Sarazin Varluzel, légataire de l’abbé Duliège, a recueilli, dans cette succession, des tableaux venant de La Tour”; finally, in his 1874 Reliquaire, Desmaze states that Mme Sarazin was the heir of the abbé Duliège, “exécuteur testamentaire du chevalier de La Tour”. Later sources have gone no further, although embellishments occur: the Goncourts called Mme Sarazin Varluzel “une descendante de La Tour”.

Those of you addicted to puzzles may want to try your hand at unravelling this now. But as I have put the details into my documentation file, the answer is already, or will very shortly be, googleable. So I shall explain, after first disposing of the red herring that the link relates to a Pierre-Antoine Du Liège, sgr de Warluzel (1714–1789), who was président-trésorier de France et général des finances en la généralité d’Amiens.

The answer is quite different. The chevalier de La Tour’s executor, the abbé Duliège, has been known for some time, as Adrien-Joseph-Constant Duliège, chapelain de l’église de Saint-Quentin et vicaire de la paroisse de Notre-Dame, although I have only recently tracked his baptismal and burial records which require patient trawling through parish records. He was born in 1749 to a tailor whose sister was the pastellist’s step-mother and the chevalier’s mother. It is the abbé’s death which would seem most relevant in tracking Desmaze’s source: he died in 1817.

As it turns out Desmaze is wrong. Flore-Joséphine Warluzèle, as her name appeared at her baptism in 1820, was not related to La Tour, and, born three years after the abbé Duliège’s death, cannot have been his heir (didn’t Desmaze realize this when he met the 52-year-old lady?). She married, apparently for the second time, Henry-Léopold Sarrazin (from a Bordeaux family), at Cessières (Aisne) in 1872: he was very much alive, and lived at 11 [not 10] rue de Chabrol at the time. Her origins were humble, her father being a carpenter, and the name was variously spelt (names beginning with W were hardly popular in France in the 1870s). Consulting her previous marriage entry in 1866, however, we find that she was then described as the widow of an Emilien Duliège, a claim not documented anywhere else. Indeed Duliège’s death certificate, which describes him as a marchand de bois in Paris, rue de Charenton-Saint-Antoine, has him as a bachelor. The plot thickens however when we discover the name of one of the witnesses on Duliège’s death certificate: Joseph-Florimond Warluzel, ébéniste. To jump to the answer, Warluzel was Flore’s half-brother; he had obviously gone to Paris to practise his trade; the Duliège family included numerous members active in the carpentry and wood business in Paris, and the ébéniste presumably introduced his sister to Emilien, leading to a relationship of some level of irregularity. Emilien was born in Paris 10e on 26 janvier 1819, but the Paris archives where the Etat civil reconstitué is held do not provide copies of documents for remote scholarship, so the final link between Emilien and the abbé will have to remain open until I next have time…unless some kind reader of this blog would be kind enough to consult the microfiche. (My guess is that Emilien was the grandson of Pierre-Alexis-René Duliège, tailleur d’habits, brother of the abbé who married him to an Eusèbe-Adélaïde Lescot at Notre-Dame de Saint-Quentin in 1787: the chevalier de La Tour was a witness.)

[Post script, 9 October 2019: The Etat civil reconsitué has now revealed that Emilien was indeed Pierre-Alexis-René’s grandson.]

Matchmaking in Ancien Régime France

This exchange of letters has been published – but in an obscure journal which has hitherto been completely overlooked. I won’t at this stage name the participants as it spoils the story, but I haven’t changed anything else. Suffice it to say that the fate of a major picture collection depends on the outcome.

An undated (evidently some time in 1788) letter from a lady, Mme R, to Monsieur X, an unmarried 62-year-old retired soldier living in a town in Northern France, concerning Mme D.:

C’est uniquement, Monsieur, par reconnaissance de la conversation que nous avons eue ensemble quand j’ai eu l’honneur de vous voir, que je me suis permis de parler à M. le chevalier de B*** d’une demoiselle qui me paraît réunir tout ce que vous m’avez paru désirer dans une compagne, et que je connais assez pour être persuadé qu’elle ferait votre bonheur. M. le chevalier de B*** ne vous a sûrement pas laissé ignorer qu’il s’agissait d’une personne de 40 à 48 ans, parfaitement bien élevée, laborieuse, accoutumée aux soins du ménage et aussi recommendable par les qualités du cœur que par les agréments de l’esprit. Je ne vous parle point de sa figure: vous êtes sûrement, Monsieur, au-dessus de cette considération: tout ce que je vous en dirai c’est qu’elle est grande, bien faite, qu’elle a de belles dents, de beaux yeux et de superbes cheveux noirs; c’est à tort, Monsieur, que vous vous effrayés de ce qu’elle est née Demoiselle. Sa sœur n’en a pas moins épousé un simple particulier, revêtu d’une charge honnête, qui n’a pas comme vous, Monsieur, l’avantage d’avoir servi et d’être décoré de la Croix de Saint Louis; et cette union n’en a pas moins été constamment heureuse et paisible depuis plus de douze ans, malgré les revers qui ont diminués la fortune du mari, épreuve délicate, comme vous savez, Monsieur, et à laquelle ne tiennent pas beaucoup d’hommes mêmes, quoique très recommandables d’ailleurs. Mon amie qui a toujours vécu avec son beau-frère et sa sœur depuis leur mariage, a peut être encore plus de cette bonhomie si désirable dans le commerce de l’intime amitié; et bien loin de se prévaloir du hazard de sa naissance, je lui ai toujours trouvé plus de franchise dans l’expression de ses sentiments, plus de simplicité dans les manières que n’en ont certaines femmes, de ce qu’on appelle l’honnête bourgeoisie.

Quelle que soit cependant, Monsieur, ma prédilection et mon attachement sincère pour cette demoiselle, je suis fort éloignée de vouloir employer vis-à-vis de vous aucun genre de séduction. Je vois en elle du côté du personnel tout ce qui peut vous convenir; du côté de la fortune, un peu plus même que vous ne m’aviez paru exiger, car vous m’avez paru souhaiter seulement qu’une femme eut assés de quoi pourvoir à son entretien, et je crois que mon amie auroit encore quelque chose de reste, cette clause remplie. L’occasion me paraît donc telle que vous la désiriés; et si vous n’êtes arrêté que par la considération de sa naissance, j’ose vous répondre que, gentilhomme ou non, vous lui serés toujours très cher si vous savés d’ailleurs la rendre heureuse, et que son caractère vous y fera trouver autant de facilité que de plaisir.

Je ne consulte pas moins, Monsieur, dans cette explication l’intérêt de votre bonheur que celui d’assurer un sort tranquille à une amie véritablement estimable et méritante à tous égards. Je me serais reprochée de vous laisser des craintes que sa façon de penser ne justiffiera jamais. Je n’irai pas plus loin, Monsieur, et contente d’avoir fait ce que je croyais devoir à la vérité autant qu’à l’amitié, je me bornerai maintenant à vous prier de croire à la sincérité des sentiments avec lesquels j’ai l’honneur d’être, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissante servante.

R.

J’ai oublié de vous observer que tout séjour, à Paris, rue ***, en province et même à la campagne, serait parfaitement égal à la personne en question.

What follows appears to be an enclosure to a lost letter from X to an unnamed friend (in my 19th century source it is printed in a completely incorrect location, attached to a much later letter), while the second and third paragraphs are presumably transcribed from a letter X has received from a very close friend:

Je n’ai pas cru devoir insérer dans ma lettre la réponse que l’on a faite à mon amy. La voicy mot pour mot:

Au reçu de ta lettre, mon cher ami, je n’ai eu rien de plus pressé que d’aller à R*** pour y prendre les informations concernant Madame *** quoique je la connoisse depuis longtems, je n’ai pas voulu m’en rapporter à moy seul, et j’ai consulté quelqu’un dont je suis sur, pour avoir les renseignemens que tu désire, et tu peux compter sur ce que tu va dire.

Madame D*** a 33 ou 34 ans au plus, et non 40 comme tu me le mandes, elle est grande, assez bien de figure, mais elle est rien moins que saine, elle est d’une laiderie dont rien n’approche. La crainte de brûler quelques bouts de chandelles l’a concentrée chez elle, et elle est femme à proposer à des amies, qui viennent la voir le soir, de les éteindre, parce que l’on peut bien s’entretenir sans se voir. On dit qu’elle pleure continuellement son premier mary; note bien cecy, paraport aux risques que l’on court. Tu dois m’entendre. Quant à sa fortune, on ne sçait pas au juste ce qu’elle a; cependant on lui croit mille écus de rente; et après la mort de Mme sa mère, qui est infirme, elle pourra jouïr de 4,500 fr.

Mon amy vient d’écrire au sien pour sçavoir au juste ce qu’il entend: par-elle est rien moins que saine. Je vous avoüe, Monsieur, que cette phrase m’a fort inquiété. Je jouïs de la meilleure santé, je n’ai jamais fait aucune maladie, exceptée la petite vérole; il seroit bien facheuex pour moi d’être uni à une personne, dont la mauvaise santé me feroit passer le reste de mes jours dans des inquiétudes continuelles. Je compte assés sur vôtre honnêteté, et sur votre véracité pour espérer que vous voudrés bien me dire ce qui en est; ainsi que de la ladrerie dont on l’accuse. Le défaut de santé est un malheur, mais l’avarice est un vice qui fait le malheur, non de l’avare, mais de ceux qui sont obligés de vivre avec lui. La franchise avec laquelle j’ai l’honneur de vous écrire doit vous prouver combine je suis incapable de tromper personne, mais aussi combien je serois faché de l’être.

23 novembre 1788 — A letter from X, to an unnamed friend:

Je te remercie bien sincèrement, mon cher et ancien camarade, des informations que tu as fait prendre; mais je trouve qu’il y a bien à rabattre de ce que tu m’as dit de l’âge et de la fortune de la personne en question. Monsieur ton parent te mande qu’elle n’a que 36 ans, au lieu de 40 ou 45 ans que j’aurois désiré, et 2,400 fr. de rentes, au lieu de 4 à 5,000 fr. que tu lui croyois. Ce dernier article, le plus important et le plus essentiel pour bien des personnes, ne l’est pas pour moi. La trop grande disproportion d’âge est tout ce que je redoute de plus. Quoiqu’ordinairement une femme à 36 ans ne soit plus dans l’âge d’inspirer une grande passion, elle n’en a pas moins les prétentions; et, comme elle est dans la force du tempérament, elle n’en est que plus exigeante; et à 63 ans, un homme est peu propre à inspirer du goût et à satisfaire et remplir ses désirs: alors, la jalousie et la mauvaise humeur se mettent dans le ménage, et l’on fait réciproquement son malheur. D’ailleurs, dans le compte que te rend M. ton parent, il n’est pas question du caractère, et de la manière qu’elle a vécu avec son premier mary, non plus que de la conduitte actuelle. Quoique d’après tout ce que tu m’en a dis, je doive la croire très honnête, on ne saurait trop prendre d’informations sur ces trois objets, puisqu’ils sont et doivent être la base de l’estime, ou du mépris que l’on a l’un pour l’autre, lorsque l’on est obligé de vivre ensemble.

Je te prie, au reçû de ma lettre, d’engager M. ton parent de te mander ce qui en est, et d’après sa réponse, j’aurai l’honneur de l’aller voir et de le remercier des peines que je lui occasionne. Pour éviter les longueurs qui sont toujours désagréables en pareil cas, je crois qu’il pouroit m’adresser directement sa réponse. Surtout prie-le bien instamment de ne point me nommer que je n’ai sçu à quoi m’en tenir, et que je n’ai vu la personne. Si après cela, elle me convient, et que de son côté elle se décide à former un second engagement, alors je me ferai connoître et lui donnerai tous les moyens, pour prendre des renseignements les plus certains sur ma conduit, mon âge, mes mœurs et ma fortune, dont tu auras sans doute parlé à M. ton parent, à qui je te prie de faire agréer les assurances de ma sincère reconnaissance. Sois persuadé de celle que j’aurois toujours pour l’intérêt que tu prends à ce qui me regard, ainsi que du parfait attachement, avec lequel je suis ton sincere et véritable ami,

X.

Je compte sur ce que tu m’as dit que la dame est veuve sans enfants, car autrement il ne faudrait pas faire de démarches. Je ne veux pas avoir les embarrass ny les inquiétudes, qui en sont les suites.

23 janvier 1789 — Letter from X to Mme D:

Madame

Je me suis fait une loy d’être franc et sincère. Si j’ai le bonheur de vous être uni, j’ose me flatter que vous reconnoîtrez de plus en plus que je m’en écarterai jamais. Je dois donc vous avoûer que l’impression que m’a laissé notre entrevue, m’a fait douter quelques instants si j’avais eu raison de vous montrer la fermeté qui vous a étonnée. Plus je me livrois à ma sensibilité, plus mon doute augmentoit; mais aussi vous confesserai-je avec la même franchise que, plus j’ai senti l’obstacle, plus j’ai vu la nécessité de me vaincre, de réfléchir et de me juger. Rendu à moi-même, j’ai dû peser scrupuleusement ce que je vous devois et la suite d’un engagement aussi important pour votre bonheur et le mien. J’ai reconnu, Madame, que ce bonheur mutuel ne peut vrayment exister, sans se dépouiller respectivement, des affections qui lui sont étrangères. Vous conviendrez, j’ose l’espérer, que ce bonheur dépend absolument d’une union sans partage. Il exige entièrement le sacrifice de tout ce qui pouroit y porter le moindre mélange. Je vais plus loin, et dès que ce sacrifice doit même cesser de l’être, dès lors que la raison le prescrit. Je n’en voudrois d’autre témoignage que celui de Mme la marquis de L, qui paroit avoir pour vous la plus tendre amitié. Aussi suis-je toujours persuadé que ce sacrifice, si c’en est un pour le moment, doit non-seulement s’étendre sur le gage que vous aviez pris d’un souvenir qui vous est cher, mais encore sur le portrait qui ne paroit que trop l’entretenir. Je me trouve donc confirmé plus que jamais dans cette nécessité absolue.

Ecartons, je vous prie, Madame, ces ombres, ces nuages, dont on couvre trop souvent le flambeau de l’hymen. Là où est la raison, ces idées d’illusion, si fatales à l’union conjugale, ne peuvent se rencontrer. Cette tendre union ne présente qu’un tout de deux parties: et cet heureux assemblage, si propre à ses douceurs et à ces charmes, ne peut certainement former une unité parfaitte, qu’autant que chacun se livre tout entier à l’autre. Telle est l’image que je me fais, et me suis fait du mariage, et à laquelle je sens que je dois absolument m’attacher. Puissent ces réflexions être assez persuasives pour vous y fixer de même. Si vous m’en donnez l’assurance, la noblesse de vos sentiments m’en sera votre garant: mon âme s’y confiera pleinement, et j’en prévois déjà d’avance la plus heureuse augure. Permettez-moi de compter assez sur moi-même pour la réaliser. Puissé-je jurer une foy inviolable en recevant la vôtre: et vous convaincre du respectueux dévouement avec lequel je suis et ne cesse d’être, Mme, V. S.

D.

30 janvier 1789 — Response to X from Mme D:

J’ai lu avec beaucoup d’attention, Monsieur, la lettre que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de mécrire. Je vois clair comme le jour que vous craingnés que le petit être qui fait l’objet de votre discussion ne soit un obstacle à l’attachement que je dois avoir pour vous. Vous ne connoissés pas mon cœur, ni l’honnêteté de mes sentimens. Soyez-bien persuadé que si je n’avois pas l’espoir que vos procédés feroient naitre dans mon cœur un attachement sincère, je n’aurois jamais pensé à former un second engagement, parce que je sens qu’il est impossible de pouvoir être heureux, qu’autant que l’on a l’un pour l’autre la plus tendre et la plus sincère amitié. J’ai connu ce bonheur, et c’est dans l’espérance que j’ai eu de le voir renaître, que j’ai consenti aux propositions qui m’ont été faites de vôtre part. Ce n’est cependant qu’après avoir eu la certitude que je trouverois aussi dans l’honnêteté de vos sentimens tout ce qui pouvoit faire le bonheur d’une femme honnête et raisonnable. Mais comme il faut prononcer sur l’article qui tient au cœur, et moi aussy, et qu’il faut se décider d’une manière ou d’autre; je vais vous dire tout naturellement mes intentions à cet égard, et vous dirés à M. de F si cela vous convient ou non. Je désire ne jamais abandonner l’enfant dont je me suis chargé. Son père ne l’a accordé qu’à mes sollicitations réitérées, et parce que sa mère n’avait pas pour cette enfant la tendresse qu’elle avoit pour les autres, quoique cette petite créature soit d’un caractère tout à fait aimable. D’après cela, en me chargeant de cette petite, je lui ai jurée, dans mon cœur, amitié et protection; et je sens que je ne puis me détacher de l’une et lui refuser l’autre. Je vous avois proposé un accommodement sur cela: c’était de la mettre dans une petite pension de cette ville ou des environs; vous avès eu l’air d’abord d’y acquiescer, et, par une réflexion qui a été défavorable à l’honnêteté de mes sentimens, vous avés mis, dans votre refus, une fermeté qui, je vous l’avoue, m’a étonnée, et je vous dirai même plus, qui m’a effrayée. Vous avez fait sur cet objet beaucoup de réflexions; j’en a fait aussi beaucoup de mon côté;  j’en sondé mon cœur, et j’ai trouvé que cet espèce d’attachement ne pouvoit avoir aucun rapport, ni être mis en comparaison à celui qu’un mary et une femme doivent avoir l’un pour l’autre. Voilà, Monsieur, mes sentimens; vous voudrès bien dire à M. de F qui doit aller à [***] dans la semaine prochaine, si vous les adoptés ou si vous les refusés, il m’en fera part à son retour. Soyés, je vous prie, persuadé, Monsieur, de toute la sincérité de mes sentimens, et de ceux avec lesquels j’ai l’honneur d’être

D.

5 février 1789 — Response from X to Mme D:

Madame,

Aussi flatté qu’ému de la réponse dont vous m’avez honnoré, que de réflexions ne m’a-t-il pas fallu faire pour ramener au vrai principe les raisons que vous avés eu le talent de si bien faire valoir? Je l’ai lue et relue plusieurs fois, et ne peux vous rendre et le plaisir et la peine qu’elle m’a faite. Icy une âme honnêtte et sensible se développe avec toute l’énergie qui lui est propre; là les obligations qu’elle croit avoir contractées semble devoir prépondérer sur toute autre; ou du moins, elle en est si remplie qu’elle ne voit pas qu’il est impossible de les allier, que ne puis-je avoir l’art de vous persuader! Je ne dois au moins rien négliger pour y parvenir. A ne considérer, Madame, l’attachement qui nous divise, abstraction de toute circonstances, sans doute ce pur effet de l’humanité n’auroit rien de contraire à un attachement, dont les causes et les vues sont si différentes; mais m’est-il possible de juger du vôtre sous ce seul rapport? C’est ce que je vous prie de bien peser. Cette innocente créature qui vous fixe, n’a pu tant vous fixer par ce seul sentiment. Il est noble, il est louable sans doute, mais il faut y voir nécessairement d’autres causes; et ces causes peuvent-elles m’être indifférentes. Plus elles peuvent servir à augmenter ou entretenir le degré de sensibilité qui vous y attache, plus je dois envisager les dangers qui peuvent en naître. Je ne m’arrêterai pas à la nécessité où est une veuve de se détacher absolument et pleinement de toutes les impressions, que son premier mary a pu lui laisser: une seconde union, pour être pure et parfaitte ne souffre pas de partage. Vôtre silence fera cette vérité me convaincre de toute sa force. Je parlerai encore moins de l’effet de l’amour propre qu’il ne m’est pas permis de faire valoir. Il est plus naturel de tenir à cet instant à l’amitié, qui vous occupe qu’à celle que j’ai fait naître. J’ai donc à vous démontrer la juste crainte que j’ai à concevoir.

Vous désirés, Madame, de jouir du bonheur que vous avés eu dans vôtre premier engagement; c’est ce que je cherche, et qui fait mon unique veu. Mais vous faut-il plus que vôtre expérience pour convenir que ce bonheur ne peut être pur et durable, si l’on névite pas tout ce qui peut en troubler et en altérer la source. Il ne peut exister, très certainement qu’autant que les deux cœurs ont les mêmes affections, et les mêmes sentimens. Pour entretenir cette unité si essentielle, il faut nécessairement que les impressions de l’un deviennent celles de l’autre. Appliquons ces principes: il faut donc que vôtre attachement devienne le mien; car nous ne devons pas seulement aimer pour nous-mêmes, nous devons encore mieux aimer tout ce qui flatte la personne que nous aimons.

Or, permettez-moy, Madame, de vous demander s’il serait raisonnable d’exiger de moi le même attachement qui vous tient tant à cœur, en ce moment. En supposant que l’habitude de voir ce qui vous seroit cher pût me faire naître le même sentiment, ne dois-je pas craindre le contraire! L’intérêt que j’aurais à vous faire perdre entièrement le souvenir que vous m’avés tant montré pour la mémoire de M. votre mary, ne seroit-il pas un obstacle? et même ne doit-il pas l’être? si je ne puis prendre ce sentiment; si même je ne le dois pas, je serais donc au moins indifférent à un objet qui loin de vous l’être, vous affectera plus vivement. Hé quoy! je vous verrois affectée, et loin de trouver des raisons pour vous complaire, j’en aurois au contraire pour n’y pas condescendre. C’est là positivement le trouble et la diversité de sentimens que j’ai si grand intérêt de prévenir. C’est la pomme de discorde, que je dois éloigner de chez moy. Plus nous paroissons sensible l’un et l’autre, moins nous devons admettre ce qui peut devenir un sujet et une source de chagrins et de peines.

Telles sont, Madame, les nouvelles réfléxions que j’ai cru propres à détruire les vôtres. Puissent-elles être assés convaincantes pour vous déterminer à ce qui m’est si important d’obtenir; c’est-à-dire de renvoyer la petite dans sa famille, à qui je consens que vous fassiés du bien, et à laisser dans le sein de la vôtre le portrait de M. votre mary, que je ne peux recevoir, chez moy, sans risque. Si vous me refusés ces deux sacrifices, auxquels sont attachés le bonheur ou le malheur de ma vie; je suis forcé de voir cet évênement et cette fatalité dans les décrets de la providence. Je n’en conserverais pas moins pour vous, Madame, l’estime que vous m’avés inspirée; et ne m’étant plus permis d’y joindre des sentimens plus tendres, je me borne à vous assurer dans toutes les occasions et dans tous les instants de ma vie, du profond respect avec lequel je suis

X

10 février 1789 — Response to X from Mme D:

J’ai bien tardé, Monsieur de répondre à la dernière lettre que vous m’avés fait l’honneur de m’écrire; je vais le faire avec toute la franchise qui fait le fond de mon caractère. Je conviens que, d’après vôtre manière d’envisager les objets qui nous divisent, il est tout naturel que vous cherchiés à éloigner tous les obstacles que vous croyés devoir troubler vôtre bonheur; et tous les argumens que vous employés pour me convaincre seroient bien faits pour me persuader. J’avois aussi cédé en partie à vos désirs, puisque je vous avois proposé de mettre cet enfant en pension, c’étoit l’éloigner de chez vous, permettés moy de vous rappeler encore que vous étiés au moment d’y consentir; mais une réfléxion désavantageuse à mes sentimens vous a fait revenir sur cet article: je dis désavantageux : parce que, persuadée comme je le suis de la pureté de mes intentions, je n’avais pas voulu apporter chés vous aucun sujet de discorde. Seroit-il possible d’imaginer que j’ai pu consentir à former un second engagement, si je n’avois été dans la ferme résolution de contribuer de tout mon pouvoir au bonheur de celui à qui je me serois unie! et ce seroit être ennemie du mien si j’avois crüe y apporter volontairement des obstacles: car il est dans ma manière de penser de ne pouvoir être heureux, si je n’ai pas un véritable attachement pour la personne avec laquelle je serois destinée à passer ma vie.

D’après cela je n’ai pas imaginé qu’un enfant que j’avois pris auprès de moy pour me distraire et m’occuper, et qui m’a inspiré de l’intérêt et de l’amitié, put jamais être un obstacle à un attachement qui doit être de beaucoup au-dessus de celui que j’ai pour elle. Je suis si persuadé de la sincérité de mes sentimens sur cet article que cela me fait persister dans la résolution que j’ai prise de ne point renvoyer cette enfant à ses parents, et de m’intéresser toujours à son sort. Je lui dois ce tendre intérêt, et je dois aussi beaucoup à ses parents pour la marque de confiance et d’amitié qu’ils m’ont donnée. Voilà, Monsieur, mes intentions sur cet article, et je ne me permettrés jamais de prononcer et d’agir différemment. Quant à celui du portrait de l’homme estimable que j’ai perdu, il m’est encore dur d’avoir à discuter cet objet; mais puisque vous désirés que je vous parle avec franchise, je vous dirai que je ne veux point laisser à ma famille cette image: ils n’ont pas assés accordé à sa mémoire pour croire qu’ils en fassent grand cas, et d’ailleurs le public seroit instruit de cela, et ce seroit un ridicule que je me donnerois, et qu’à coup sûr je ne mériterois pas: mais il auroit été une manierre d’arranger cet article à vôtre gré et au mien.

Je regrette beaucoup de n’avoir pas prévu toutes ces difficultés: je vous aurois épargné, Monsieur, et à moy aussi, la peine de les discuter; mais j’en suis dédomagée par l’avantage que j’ai de vous connoître, et de vous assurer des sentimens avec lesquels j’ai l’honneur d’être

D.

17 février 1789 — Letter from X to M. de F:

Sensible à tous vos bons offices, et vos honnêtetés, c’est moy qui doit vous témoigner la plus vive reconnaissance. Je verrai toujours naître, avec intérêt, les occasions qui pourront me venger.

Mme D m’a bien honoré de sa réponse. J’en suis affecté. La naïveté de ses impressions, le charme qu’elle sçait y répandre, tout, en elle, me pénétre délicieusement, et m’auroit entraîné, si mes raisons ne m’avoient pas paru devoir prépondérer.

Chacun a droit à son opinion: la nôtre, quoique différente, est peut être admissible de part et d’autre, il n’en résulte pas moins une discordance de vües, dont l’idée seule doit m’effrayer et m’arrêter.

Que nous étions bien éloignés de cette unité de sentimens que je recherchois, et dont je me faisois, d’après notre existence, une si gracieuse image! si nous n’avons pu nous accorder dès le premier pas, quelle crainte cette circonstance ne doit-elle pas m’inspirer!

Je suis trop jaloux de son bonheur, et de ma tranquillité pour rien hazarder qui puisse y porter le moindre trouble. Je vois donc l’impossibilité de nôtre union. Par quelle fatalité faut-il que celle, dont les qualités extérieures avoient fait sur moy une si douce impression, ne puisse faire son bonheur avec moy par la diversité de nos manierres de penser. J’en ai tous les regrêts possibles.

Je vous prie, Monsieur, de les lui rendre avec cette énergie dont vous êtes capable; vous ne pouvés jamais excéder la vérité.

J’aurois eu l’honneur de vous écrire plustôt, si je n’avois compté avoir un entretien avec M. M., ainsi que vous me l’avés annoncé. Je ne l’ai pas vu. Sans doute que ses affaires ne lui auront pas permis de venir icy. Permettés que Mme votre épouse trouve icy les assurances de mon profond respect, et soyés persuadé des sentimens sincères et distingués avec lesquels j’ai l’honneur d’être, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissante serviteur,

X

Minutiae at the Met

9781588396617

My review of Katharine Baetjer’s new catalogue of French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is in the April Apollo. (As that article mentions the recent National Gallery catalogue, here’s a link to my comments on that.) This note simply lists the marginalia I jotted down while reading the book: points too trivial to include in the review, but which might be helpful for the Met’s great collections website. [Postscript: The Met have now generously made the catalogue freely available online already, here.]

page 19. The abbé Dubos was a member of the Académie française, not the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture.

page 21. The mention of Watteau here hints at the fact that a good number of the Met’s pictures were not products of the Académie royale system.

page 22. “The 1740s saw the birth…”: Salon criticism goes back at least to Florent Le Comte’s discussion of the 1699 salon.

page 29. It seems curious to give such prominence to the exact days each salon was open, since so many are unknown, and so little hinges on them. But at a first glance a number of the dates proposed here don’t agree with those in Udo van de Sandt’s new study, Histoire des expositions de l’Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (1663–1791): solennités, fêtes, cérémonies et salons (not cited). E.g.

  • 1669: it isn’t even clear that the display this year was open to the public.
  • 1671: UvdS has a start date of 28 March, not 20 April
  • 1673: UvdS (p. 22) has 24 August – 3 September, i.e. 11 days, while Baetjer has August 14 – September 4.
  • 1681: UvdS notes that nothing confirms that an exhibition took place.
  • 1699: again the circumstances were complicated: as UvdS explains, the opening took place on 2 September, and it was intended to last until 16, but was extended to 22, September (Baetjer: August 20 – September 16).
  • 1704: Baetjer prints September 12 – November 8 following Duvivier and Guiffrey. But as UvdS explains, while these dates are credible, the source is unknown.

Catalogue by number

Number 1 Largillierre ?Mme Lambert

In assessing the suggested identity (was it any more than the dealer’s imagination fuelled by a collection of Drevet prints?) it might have been useful to consider the accuracy of other suggestions made at the time of its acquisition. A report in the New York Tribune (10 May 1903, pp. 36–37, not cited in Baetjer nor in the relevant object web pages, although it is apparently the first publication of these works) discusses and reproduces the first three purchases with the Rogers fund: this (already said to be of Marie-Marguerite, not Hélène); the Nattier, cat. no. 19 below, presented with no foundation as of the princesse de Condé, and a portrait said to be of Kaiser Joseph II by François-Hubert Drouais but which is of an unidentified sitter by Batoni.

In passing I note the portrait in Honolulu said to be by Largillierre and Blin de Fontenay, and of Hélène Lambert, the basis of which also seems questionable. I note too another  confusion: the 1699 salon lists Largillierre’s three portraits, of Lambert de Torigny [sic], his wife, and “M. Lambert leur Fils President des Enquêtes” [my emphasis]: Baetjer  assumes this is Claude-Jean-Baptiste Lambert de Thorigny (who in fact died in 1703, one year after the date Jal gives); but he was actually at the Chambre des comptes. (See my genealogy.) Assuming that the livret was typeset from manuscript, it seems more likely that the third portrait was of Claude’s brother, Nicolas III Lambert de Vermont (1666–1729), who was reçu président de la deuxième Chambre des requêtes du Parlement in 1697. (He was later prévôt des marchands de Paris.) This identification is reinforced by the appearance among the debtors listed in Largillierre’s marriage contract of 19 August 1699 of an outstanding payment of 70 livres from “le président Lambert de Vermont” for a copy of his portrait. If so, this portrait (or the copy) is not missing – it is in the Norton Simon Museum. Baetjer does not mention Saint-Simon’s description of Marie-Marguerite, “belle comme le jour” – sufficiently so to have had an affair with the duc d’Elbeuf (Additions à Dangeau, Pléïade ed., 1983, i, p. 1145; curiously he too confuses her husband and brother-in-law).

But all this is probably irrelevant.

Baetjer reports no enquiry into the supposed early provenance, the “marquis d’Ussel, chateau d’Oscamp, Belgium”, which might perhaps provide a clue if decrypted. The suggestion that “Oscamp” is Oostkamp is indeed plausible, particularly if developed further. The chateau there belonged to the family not of Ussel, but of Ursel, a distinguished ducal family in the Belgian nobility who might well have commissioned a portrait from Largillierre. Unfortunately so far it has not been possible to locate a record of the picture sold in the family archives.

As for the iconography of the black servant, it seems tenuous to link this to the acquisition of Saint-Domingue in 1664; the tradition goes back at least to Van Dyck.

Number 2 Largillierre Alloys d’Herculais

page 37: “Amaury Aloys d’Herculais was not Jules Künckel’s son”: actually he was (he was also the sitter’s great-great-grandson), as can be demonstrated by consulting the Conflans census in 1909 or by comparing his 1928 address with his mother’s, Künckel’s second wife. He was in fact born in Algiers on 9 August 1893; as his parents had not yet married, his birth was registered under his mother’s name, Mouilleron, with forenames Amaury-Jules-Aloys.

When the sitter’s grandson died in 1869, he named Künckel as universal legatee because he was the son of his cousin. See http://www.pastellists.com/Genealogies/Alloys.pdf

Number 3 Rigaud Man

James-Sarazin seems to retain the possible identification as Nicolas Collin de Vermont, first suggested by Gallenkamp, which is not mentioned here.

Number 4 Rigaud Officer

Discussions about the identification and dating will continue: a later date, and perhaps a degree of studio involvement, might help explain the differences in quality from the version in fig. 4.4.

Number 6 Gobert duchesse de Bourgogne

“We know relatively little about her”: readers of Saint-Simon will disagree (the entry for her in the index of the Pléïade edition alone runs to three pages).

The sitter’s face bears little resemblance to Gobert’s portraits of the duchesse de Bourgogne in Versailles (MV 2102, 6825), beyond the general similarity of all his women; but the portrait is virtually identical (apart from the colour of the eyes and a cap) to the Dresden portrait of Élisabeth-Charlotte d’Orléans (inv. 761):

It is extremely close too to that of the marquise de Nesle (Agen, mBA); no doubt other versions exist. Is the painting correctly identified, or are these merely indications of Gobert’s limitations? (No provenance before 1945 is given.)

Number 9 De Troy Triumph of Mordecai

page 59. As Troy is a monosyllable, the particle should be retained.

page 60. Racine’s forename was Jean, not Jean-Baptiste.

page 61. Technically Rome did not become the capital of Italy until 1871.

Number 10 Watteau Mezzetin

page 65. It is odd to conclude that Watteau “would not have been drawn to Luigi Riccoboni’s newly arrived troop”. As my edition of her diaries demonstrates, Rosalba was connected with the Riccoboni family.

Number 15 Nattier Dame en Source

The title can’t comfortably be translated as “The Source”.

page 81. “for a duchess, inappropriately, revealed”: but other Nattier portraits of high ranking ladies did so (Salmon 1999, nos 28, 39, 43 etc., and probably others whose later interventions have not yet been reversed).

Number 16 Nattier marquise d’Argence

An examination of the parish registers at Surin (Vienne) shows that she was born 16, baptized 29, January 1714 (so she married unusually late, which is why her dates may have been difficult to find).

D’Argence visited Ferney in September 1760. But this published poem was probably never actually posted to his wife (and is not included in modern editions of Voltaire’s correspondence).

Number 17 Nattier Mme Marsollier

Mme Marsollier died on 9 (and was buried 10) January 1756 at Paris, Saint-Eustache, aged 40, and so was almost certainly born in 1715. In 1749 she was hardly a “very young woman”, but that is Nattier’s art.

“He bought her a title and she became the comtesse de Neubourg”: this seems to confuse statements found in earlier sources, and which was only partially, but incorrectly, explained in Salmon 1999, who relied on unverified family confusion. The Neubourg territory only came into the family far later. The daughter and granddaughter of Nattier’s sitters, Adélaïde-Marie-Octavie Lorimier de Chamilly (1762–1849) married Louis-Aymon de Pernon whose half-brother’s son Edmond-Ferdinand Quentin de Richebourg married (in 1784) Louise-Joséphine Le Prestre de Neubourg; she died in 1820 with no posterity, when the Neubourg land (and title) fell to Adélaïde: her daughter Agathe had married (in 1808) the vicomte Marc de Saint-Pierre etc.

The duc de Luynes’s story needs to be considered in the context of this portrait which gives such prominence to the fabrics her husband had sold.

Neither in the book nor the website is there a full account of the copies – that belonging to Reginald Vaile for example was publicly exhibited in several locations before being sold to Agnew’s for £4725 in his 1903 sale. (This contrasts with the 320 guineas, or £336 – not £320 – recorded for Lot 28 in the same sale, referred to without lot number in Baetjer, p. 254 n.4, a version of the Fragonard. Such numbers are more significant for the history of taste than in the determination of authenticity.) It was presumably this version of the “comtesse de Neubourg and daughter” which Agnew’s bought from W. Lockett Agnew on 23 April 1909 and sold three days later to the collector William Knox D’Arcy for £9000. Its earlier history is also with Agnew’s: stock no. 158, they originally bought it from the French dealer Régis Chanas on 28 November 1901 before selling it to Vaile a few days later for £6600.

Number 18 Nattier Dame 1753

The rejection of the identity as “Mme de Cypierre” is correct: she cannot plausibly be 13 years old.

“genealogical information is lacking…”: The marriage contract was signed in Paris 18 August 1752 (AN MC/ET/XII/525). The marquis Cypierre died on 18 July 1790, not 1789 (parish register, Mont-Dore, Puy-de-Dôme).

Page 89 & n.4. The arrangement with Agnew’s can be expanded a little by consulting their stock books, where it appears as no. 1581. It was purchased from Fairfax-Murray on 17 May 1905, with a 1/2 share of any profit to him; as correctly noted, it was returned on 4 September 1907. (Taken at the same time on the same basis was Carle Van Loo’s Mme de Pompadour as La Belle Jardinière, which did sell – to Pierpont Morgan, for £4400.)

Number 19 Nattier Mme Bergeret

By 1760 Nattier’s success was waning rapidly.

It is surely no coincidence that Albert Pioerron de Mondésir’s grandson Jean married Thérèse Bergeret de Frouville (the sitter’s great-great-great-granddaughter), in 1929; the connection between the families may go back to her great-grandmother Edmée-Charlotte-Pierrette Bergeret de Frouville whose children were illegitimate by an unnamed father.

Number 24 Coypel Jullienne couple

Literature on artist: Lefrançois is considerably supplemented by the Dictionary of pastellists online, where this work is J.2472.171.

“unrecorded…no trace until 1974”: I have published the detailed history from its first appearance before 1906, when it acquired by Duveen, and sold (in May) to Mrs T. Henry Mason, née Emma Jane Powley (1850–1918), previously Mrs Lewis; her second husband, whom she married in 1899, was a mining tycoon who died in 1902. She lived in New York, Paris and London. She frequently returned works, including this one (by August 1906); Duveen records also note other pastels sold to her, as well as a disturbingly high invoice of $1042.10 for “restoring three pastels”. The label, reproduced in fig. 24.1, is in English, consistent with this provenance and apparently in the same handwriting as the relevant page in the Duveen ledgers.

page 106. “Julienne was not particularly interested in pastels”. See http://www.pastellists.com/Collectors.htm#J for his collection: there were 37 pastels in his sale alone, making him one of the most important pastel collectors of his era. (Mariette thought he had paid far too much – 4000 livres – for a set of Rosalba’s Four Seasons towards the end of his life.) Here is how he displayed six of them, from a single page in the album in the Morgan Library:

Jullienne Pastels

For Coypel’s meetings with Rosalba, see my annotated edition of her diaries: http://www.pastellists.com/Essays/Carriera_journal.pdf

Keyed stretcher: La Tour’s pastel of Frémin at the Louvre (J.46.1819) is probably contemporary: see my Prolegomena, §iv.1.

Number 27 Pater Jeux d’enfans

La Live de Jully “an associate member”: the term honoraire associé libre is liable to misunderstanding if translated thus; he was not agréé.

Number 30 Tocqué Nattier

page 122. Mme Brochier, née Charlotte-Claudine Nattier died 12 May 1779.

Number 31 Dumesnil

Fig. 31.1. For this and other portraits of Beaujon, see my http://www.pastellists.com/Essays/VigeeLeBrun_Beaujon.pdf

Number 37 Trémolières

It might be worth noting that he married the miniaturist (and sister-in-law of Subleyras) Isabella Tibaldi.

Number 41 Boucher Toilette de Venus

The INHA annotation suggests that Marin can be identified as Jean-François Marin, peintre de l’Académie Saint-Luc, whose death and application of seals was announced in the Journal de Paris 23 February 1790, a month before the sale.

Number 42 Boucher Jupiter

Alastair Laing’s correct inference that the lender to the Salon in 1765 was the uncle of the better-known Pierre-Jacques-Onézime Bergeret (this seems to be his preferred spelling, rather than Onésyme, although every variant is found) because the work was not in the nephew’s posthumous inventory or sale prompts us to note an even simpler reason: during his life, only Nicolas-Joseph used the title “de Grancourt”. The land may have passed to P.-J.-O. Bergeret at his death, but, despite very frequent appearances in modern sources, I can find no example in a document during his life of P.-J.-O. Bergeret using it (I should be delighted to be proved wrong, as a good many modern books appear to be incorrect). The confusion goes back at least to Portalis’s monograph on Fragonard (1889); the Goncourt article (1865) listed the 1765 lender with no warning that he was not the nephew.

Bergeret Pierre Jacques Onezime placard de deces

page 163. I don’t think “tripière” is usefully rendered as “tripe seller”, nor even by “strumpet” (the Goodman translation): the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, 4e éd, notes “une femme qui est grosse & courte”. The ill-temper is from a different passage.

Number 50 La Tour Garnier d’Isle

page 175. It seems odd not to mention the enormous quantity of information on La Tour available in the online Dictionary and other parts of the Pastels & pastellists website: for a guide to the various La Tour documents, see http://www.pastellists.com/LaTour.htm.

Number 50 is J.46.1827 in the online Dictionary.

Contrary to the introduction here, La Tour’s technique often made a virtue of visible strokes. I discuss precisely this point in relation to the present work in my Burlington Magazine article (Jeffares 2011, p. 500, reviewing the Met’s 2011 exhibition), which is disregarded in Baetjer, and not even cited on the object web page in the Met’s online database which, according to Baetjer, includes “every former owner, previous exhibition, and publication known to us.”

Number 51 Van Loo Hunt

Among the more recent literature, Autour des Van Loo, edited by Christine Rolland, stands out.

Number 52 Voiriot Aublet

The traditional date of Voiriot’s birth was corrected in Voiriot’s 2004 article (although it is cited): it is 1712.

No curiosity is expressed about M. Aublet’s identity. A possible candidate might be Jean-Zorobabel Aublet de Manubuy, the lawyer and writer imprisoned in the Bastille for his outspokenness; further research is required.

Number 55 Perronneau Olivier Journu

This is J.582.1429 in the online Dictionary, which also contains material not in d’Arnoult. The traditional c.1715 year of birth for the artist should be replaced by c.1716 since his age was given as “in his 68th year” (i.e. 67 years of age) at his death near the end of November 1783.

For what is known of Olivier’s life, see my essay http://www.pastellists.com/Essays/Perronneau_Journu.pdf where the work is reproduced (not referenced by Baetjer or the Met website); it is also reproduced in my 2011 Burlington Magazine article (not referenced). Literature omits the famous texts of Robert de Montesquiou and the Goncourts.

page 191. “the names are not recorded in full”: actually Olivier was baptized simply “Bernard”, despite the fact that he already had a brother with this name. Both he and another brother called themselves Olivier, which did not resolve the confusions.

Olivier’s death is widely reported as 1764, but this seems to be based only on Meaudre de Lapouyade’s inference that he died “before 1764” (since he was omitted from his mother’s will).

The entry ends with this slightly vacuous statement: “While his expression is opaque, he seems to be acutely self-aware.”

Number 58 Duplessis Mme de Saint-Maurice [Saint-Morys]

page 196 n.1. The information given for the Barbeyrac family is rather confused. Antoine de Barbeyrac (1693–1749) was not marquis de Saint-Maurice as the title was only erected in 1753; he was in any case a président, not a conseiller. Of the four sons, three were soldiers, while the eldest, also Antoine, who did become marquis de Saint-Maurice, does not seem to have been a lawyer (Louis de La Roque is scrupulous about noting all such appointments); I can find no member of this family of a plausible age to fit Saint-Aubin’s description.

SaintAubin Livret

In fact “Mme de St Maurice, femme d’un conseiller au parlement” can only be Éléonore-Élisabeth-Angélique de Beauterne (1742–1824), who, in 1776, married the conseiller au parlement Charles-Paul-Jean-Baptiste de Bourgevin de Vialart, comte de Saint-Morys (1743–1795), an art collector famous for his patronage of Greuze and other artists. Saint-Morys was appointed conseiller at the 1ère des enquêtes from 1769, and (apart from a brief interlude during the Maupeou reforms), he remained in office at the time of the portrait; it is in the robes of a conseiller au parlement that Greuze painted him c.1780 (Nantes, mBA). No other conseiller had a similar or homophonous name.

The Saint-Morys had only one child, a son (also known from a well-known Greuze portrait) killed in a duel in 1817 fought over the threatened demolition of the family château where his mother was still living; his only daughter (and Éléonore’s universal heir), Charlotte-Marie-Joséphine (1792–1857), who lost her own husband a few months later, acquired the Paris property at 8 rue Vivienne. According to Éléonore’s posthumous inventory (11 March 1824; AN MC/C/1118), in the salon were three family portraits, listed without further description “pour mémoire”, as were a further five in the principal bedroom:

SaintMorysMme inv pm

Charlotte-Marie-Joséphine died in 1857, the year in which we know Carleton Gates was travelling in Europe and forming the collection of which this portrait became part. (Gates was in Paris between September 1857 and March 1858, but does not mention the purchase in the two pages covering that period in his correspondence in the William & Mary Libraries: my thanks to the staff there for checking.) The portraits may well have been disposed of before then: comte Alphonse de Feltre had acquired the two Greuze portraits from the family in time to give them to Nantes in 1830. Not definitive confirmation, perhaps; but a plausible narrative consistent with my suggestion.

Number 59 Duplessis Franklin

There is no discussion (either here or in Baetjer & al. 2017) of the problematic salon critic which describes the work shown in 1779: “Ce portrait en veste de satin blanc”. Unless this is explained there must be some doubt that the MMA picture is the one shown.

Number 60 Duplessis copy

Pierre de Buissy was born and baptized 30 June 1737 at Abbeville, paroisse Saint-Gilles as can be verified in the parish registers.

Number 61 Greuze Eggs

page 205. Georges Gougenot de Croissy died in 1792 (3 January), not 1784.

Number 62 Greuze Boy

Page 207f. For Harenc de Presle and Damery, see the entries in http://www.pastellists.com/Collectors.htm .

Number 63 Greuze d’Angiviller

For the provenance, we are given merely “?comte de Bernis-Calvière, Vézénobres, Gard; vicomte Paul Le Compasseur Créqui Montfort de Courtivron, Paris”. The Bernis were descendants of the family of cardinal de Bernis, an associate of d’Angiviller; it would be worth investigating if the picture was given to him.

In the Met object web page is cited « Exposition au profit des laboratoires, 1922 or 1923 »: this is my Paris 1923b, L’Art français au service de la science, exposition d’œuvres d’art des xviiie, xixe, xxe siècles, au profit d’aide à la recherche scientifique, Paris, Hôtel des négociants en objets d’art, rue de Ville-l’Évêque, 1923.

Page 212 n.8. Probably the primary version of the Duplessis portrait is in the Danish royal collection, KMS7065. There are numerous related pictures, including Lagrenée’s 1783 Allégorie relative à l’établissement du Muséum dans la Grande Galerie du Louvre (Louvre, inv. RF 1998-6).

Number 67 Greuze, Princess Varvara Nikolaevna

The iconography  includes a 1792 portrait by Füger (Berlin, Nationalgalerie, inv. A I 947): http://www.smb-digital.de/eMuseumPlus?service=ExternalInterface&module=collection&objectId=965290&viewType=detailView .

This may help recognize that the Reynolds print is of the same sitter as Greuze, who had a particular tendency to make his noses look aquiline.

Princess Gagarina

Number 70 Drouais “Mme Favart”

Fig. 70.1 shows the Daullé print, not the Vanloo drawing (this may be seen as J.745.1205 in pastellists.com).

“Me Boulland” is an abbreviation of Maître, not Madame.

Number 72 Drouais Madame Sophie

For a discussion of the iconography of the princess, see my http://www.pastellists.com/Essays/Frey_Sophie.pdf where the present work is reproduced.

Number 74 Drouais Boy with a spaniel

The original painting from Rothschild collection is visible in the 1962 watercolour by Alexandre Serebriakoff of the salon vert in a Paris house (a photograph is available through Getty Images).

Number 76 Pillement Naufrage

Literature: the Dictionary of pastellists has much more of Pillement’s oeuvre than any of the sources suggested. This example is J.592.306. Pillement was baptized “Jean-Baptiste”. The “Society of Arts” is not the Society of Artists, where he exhibited.

Number 77 Pécheux María Luisa

The Sternkreuzorden cannot usefully be translated as “order of the Star Cross”; “Starry Cross” is standard.

Number 80 Fragonard Woman with dog

As far as I know the only evidence of the year of Émilie Coignet de Courson’s birth is a document in the AN S.1022, 3 February 1742 in which there is reference to the tutelage of Emilie and her siblings arranged in a deed of 10 March 1733 (at Auxerre), when her mother died: she was then aged 16, not 6, years, so that she was probably born in 1716, not 1727. So in 1769 she would have been 53, not 42. Dupuy-Vachey does not consider the picture to be of Emilie.

Number 84 Fragonard The love letter

Perhaps worth noting that the standard convention of the day was for an envelope to be addressed “A Monsieur/Monsieur…”. While such inscriptions often serve in portraiture to establish social positions, it would be singular for a wife to hold a letter to her own husband.

Number 106 David Socrates

“Difficult to judge the extent of his education in classical languages”: his inscription ΑΘEΝAIΩΝ should be ΑΘΗΝΑΊΩΝ; this would suggest his Greek was rudimentary.

page 314. Daniel-Charles Trudaine was an intendant des finances, not a fermier général.

Number 107 David Lavoisier

Among the enormous literature on this picture there is even a thesis (by Lucile Roche) not cited here, nor in the object web page. Nor is there mention here (although there is online, without explanation) of the frame with royal arms: this is so singularly inappropriate, one wonders if it was a private joke.

But perhaps it is David who is having his own joke, since he seems to have borrowed the composition (again another secret that has escaped scholarship), not from Paris and Helen (p. 321f here) nor Vigée Le Brun’s Calonne nor from the Garrick double portrait (object web page), but from an erotic print (Delignon, after Lavreince) published in 1782, Les Offres séduisantes? That is possibly why he avoided putting Lavoisier in the robe de chambre normally shown in scientists’ portraits, as it would have open to misinterpretation.

Delignon v David

page 319. The price of 7000 livres, described here as “immense”, is less than the 10,000 reportedly offered for the Labille-Guiard triple portrait (Number 110, pp. 331, 333).

Number 110 Labille-Guiard triple portrait

The literature here and on the object web page omits Mantz 1854, p. 178: “Les portraitistes du XVIIIe siècle. IV”, L’Artiste, xii, 1854, pp. 177-79 “exempte surtout de cette sentimentalité plate et menteuse dont madame Lebrun se montrait si fière, cette toile vaut mieux que tous les pastels de madame Guyard”. The passage is particularly significant since it predates the Louvre rejection (see below) by 24 years.

In my recent research in both the online Dictionary and the post on this blog I provided considerably more information on Labille-Guiard’s family and pupils – notably about Mlle Carraux [sic], who was an illegitimate daughter of Swiss farmers.

Similarly I have more information on each of the nine pupils than can be found in Passez (p. 330, n.2).

Page 332. “offered to the Louvre, and declined” is a rather deficient summary of a judgement that the picture was “sans valeur artistique” – a mere family portrait (letter of 30 November 1878 from Eugène Guillaume, conveying the views of Frédéric Reiset, then directeur des musées nationaux, to the minister).

Number 111 Labille-Guiard Madame Elisabeth

“Le Grand Dauphin” was Louis le dauphin’s great-grandfather.

This is J.44.175 in the Dictionary. My provenance includes the possibility that this was lot 99 in the baron de Beurnonville’s sale.

Number 116 Victoire Lemoine Interior

The literature omits Charlotte Guichard, La Griffe de l’artiste, 2018.

Baetjer’s scepticism about the traditional identifications is surely unnecessary: the standing figure does resemble Vigée Le Brun, while a newly discovered self-portrait by Victoire Lemoine (Paris, Drouot, De Baecque, 27 March 2019, Lot 131; Lot 132 is the painting box from the same provenance) not only has blue eyes (ruling her out as the standing figure) but a face which, allowing for the change in viewpoint, closely resembles the pupil.

Number 117 Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux Autoportrait

Ducreux claimed to have been the only pupil of La Tour, but the cliché should be dropped.

She holds a tuning key, not a tuning fork.

Number 124 Villers Charlotte du Val

Denise was 13 years younger, not older, than Mme Gabiou.

page 375. “if born about 1786”: she was indeed born, on Christmas day, 1786, baptized at Sézanne (Marne), paroisse Saint-Denis.

New facts about Mme Labille-Guiard’s family

Labille Guiard Autoportrait avec 2 elevesAdélaïde Labille-Guiard (whose famous self-portrait with pupils, above, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, having been rejected by the Louvre in 1878 as “sans valeur artistique”) needs no apology for detailed attention – although, as a female artist, she is sure not to lack it from a new generation of academics for whom gender seems to dominate other considerations. But despite recent publications, some basic facts about her family seem to have escaped everyone (the assumption[1] seems to have been that Marie-Anne Passez, author of the 1973 monograph on the artist, will have found anything worth gleaning from archives), and so I’ve gathered together some observations I’ve made in the hope that future publications will make full use of these minutiae. Perhaps you will think them all trivial; but the theme that emerges (here, and in so much of the archival work I do) is just how close-knit were the artistic families in the ancien régime. You can follow the discussion by referring not only to the Labille-Guiard article in the main Dictionary of pastellists, but also to supplementary documents such as the Labille genealogy.

First, her father – whose bust (by Pajou) you can just see peeping out behind the canvas above. Claude-Edme Labille is normally presented as the fashion shopkeeper, best known for employing the future Madame Du Barry in 1761–62. He was indeed a marchand mercier, but it doesn’t seem to have been noticed that, on 18.ix.1761, he sold the “fonds de boutique de mercier” at the rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs, to a Mlle Josèphe Blondelu, fille majeure d’un marchand mercier.[2] So it is unlikely that (as Passez surmised) Labille-Guiard rubbed shoulders with the royal favourite for any length of time. Shortly before, he was described in another document[3] as “receveur de la loterie de l’École-militaire.” This was the ambitious scheme suggested by Casanova and promoted by Mme de Pompadour and Joseph Paris-Duverney for financing a military education for impoverished nobility: Labille had been involved from the start, as this entry in the Journal historique et littéraire for June 1758 makes clear:

Loterie Journal 1758

By 1772 he was also “directeur de la Poste de Paris”.[4] He was still active at the lottery, although by then the idea was struggling, as we can see from documents such as this memorandum[5] proposing revisions to the Loterie royale militaire bearing his signature in 1776:

Labille sig on lottery

Despite the various attempts to fix its problems, the lottery was never a success. And this I suggest is what Labille-Guiard meant by “toutes ses pertes” in the impassioned letter she wrote to the comtesse d’Angiviller in 1783 about the distress caused to him by the pamphlets attacking her.[6] Whatever the challenges, Labille’s involvement in high finance and court circles must have been far more important for his daughter’s social success than would have been the opportunity to sell ribbons with a girl who had not yet progressed far on that ladder.

Another reason for Labille’s retirement in 1761 (when he was aged 56 or so) was that (contrary to Passez, who gives a much later date), his wife, Marie-Anne Martin or Saint-Martin, had just died. (They were married at Saint-Sulpice on 16.ii.1740.) I will leave it to others to explore the psychological significance of losing a mother at the age of 12 rather than 19 (as previously thought), particularly for an artist renowned for her “neuf muses au berceau”, the female pupils she protected. But the burial entry in the registers of Saint-Eustache for 1.iv.1761 (the day after Mme Labille’s death) reveals three new facts: her age – she was 44 – unsurprising, but hitherto unremarked; that her burial was attended not by her widower, but by a son, Edme, of whom Passez makes no mention; and that another witness was “Pierre Baudoin, garde meuble du roi.”

This Pierre Baudouin (1709–1787), bourgeois de Paris (the name is common, and he is not necessarily a relation of Boucher’s son-in-law), is discovered again in a series of documents[7] in the registres de tutelles concerning his 36-year-old daughter Félicité-Marguerite, born mentally retarded but looked after by her mother, Jeanne-Marguerite Le Clere, until the latter’s death resulted in a need for formal certification (“interdiction”). One of the witnesses to that was the peintre en miniature, Jean-François-Marie-Louis-Auguste de Lorraine. Another relative was Nicolas Guiard, whom you will recognise as the artist’s first husband: of him more later. But in passing let us note that Guiard was there described as “premier commis de M. Saint-Julien, trésorier du clergé”. François-David Bollioud de Saint-Julien (12.vii.1713–20.ix.1788), receveur général du clergé de France, known to art history for commissioning Fragonard’s L’Escarpolette, is often confused with the art critic and collector Guillaume Baillet, baron de Saint-Julien (c.1715–1795). Bollioud de Saint-Julien’s wife was Anne-Madeleine-Louise-Charlotte-Auguste de La Tour du Pin – she of course was the “Madame Dupin de Saint-Julien” whose (lost) pastel Labille-Guiard exhibited in the salon de 1785, no. 96 (J.44.253; Passez 56, citing Portalis’s cryptic remark but without tying it together with her name, let alone the relationship with the artist’s husband; Portalis then proceeds to confuse the receveur with the critic).

Of Labille-Guiard’s sister Félicité, Passez tells only (correctly) that she died in 1768, and (incorrectly) that she married a Simon Gros, thus missing one of the significant artistic connections of our subject. In fact Félicité Labille (1748–Paris 27.v.1768) married, in Paris, Saint-Eustache on 27.ii.1764 (contract of 21.ii.1764, AN mc/lxxxviii/492), the toulousain miniaturist[8] Jean-Antoine Gros (1732–1790). Two years after her death he married the miniaturist and pastellist Pierre-Madeleine-Cécile Durant; their son was the famous history painter and portraitist, Antoine-Jean, baron Gros (1771–1835).

Passez describes Labille’s unsatisfactory first marriage to “Louis-Nicolas Guiard”, whom she suggests she met because they were neighbours, or perhaps through the agency of the sculptor Gois, a friend of Vincent with connections in Guiard’s native Dijon. Passez gives his age as 27, so many sources have inferred that he was born in 1742; some recent genealogical sources give his birth as 1744. In fact a trawl through the parish records for Dijon produces his baptismal record, in Saint-Michel, in 1741:

Guiard Nicolas bpt Dijon st Michel6iii1741

Nicolas (there was no Louis at his baptism) was born on 6.iii.1741 (and baptised the following day as was the norm), to Jean-Hugues Guiard (1709–1758), procureur aux cours royales de Dijon, and his wife Anne Molée, daughter of a huissier at the court. Although Nicolas’s grandfather was a menuisier, the Guiard were long established in Dijon, with legal connections.[9] Nicolas’s uncle and cousin were, like his father, procureurs at the court, the cousin being guillotined in 1794, while an aunt was married to a musicien de la chambre du roi. We can also add that after his divorce from the artist, Nicolas Guiard’s second marriage, to Marie-Catherine-Charlotte Robert (Passez, p. 39, n.6) took place in Paris, 2.vii.1795.

Ducreux Joly de Gevry Par22vi2007 L95Nicolas had several sisters. One of them, Michelle-Ursule (1746–a.1808), married, in Dijon in 1777, one Philibert Joly (1751–1808), avocat, son of a Bénigne Joly (1726–1810), a landowner in Gevrey in the same diocese. This I think provides a clue to a pastel (J.44.198, right) described as of “le chevalier Bénigne Joly de Gevrey, docteur en droit”, which was exhibited in 1933 as by Ducreux. When it came up for sale in 2007 with that attribution, Joseph Baillio and I independently considered it more likely to be by Labille-Guiard. It subsequently appeared as no. A20 in Auricchio 2009; without examining it de visu, its appearance makes me retain the possibility that it has either been restored or is a copy of a lost Labille-Guiard. But the sitter is evidently Philibert, not his father, nor his son, also Bénigne, born 1780. The date of the pastel, read as 1752 in 1933 and 1772 in 2007, is most likely 1777, that of the marriage.

But what of Passez’s speculations about the artist’s introduction to Guiard? As we have seen, Adélaïde’s mother was probably related to the Baudouin family who were also connected to Nicolas Guiard. But there is a much earlier connection which requires us first to investigate another branch of her family, the Charlot and Frémy, found in the Aube area.

Labille Guiard Mme Charlot Nevers11xii2004The connection arose through Adélaïde’s aunt Catherine Labille (c.1713–1788) who, in Sommevoire (near Troyes) in 1732, married Claude-Charles Charlot (c.1700–1759), from Bar-sur-Aube, notaire, procureur fiscal. Their son was Claude III Charlot (1739–1788); for obvious reasons he is unlikely to be the male sitter painted in an II (1793/4) which Passez (no. 134) identifies as him. As to Passez no. 148, Auricchio no. U29, a mother and child painted in 1798/99 (left), that may well be the second wife of Claude II’s son, Nicolas-François Charlot, who married Marie-Nicole-Adélaïde Regley (1771–1827) in 1787. Let us note however that Mme Labille-Guiard was marraine (in absentia, represented by Marie-Julienne Régley, the infant’s grandmother) at the baptism of the older child, Adélaïde Charlot, on 6.vii.1791 at Ricey Haute Rive. There is then a gap in online genealogies until Vincent is born, in 1803; but I have found, and publish here, the entry in the parish records for Les Riceys for another daughter, Léontine, on 21 fructidor an V (7.ix.1797), which seems to fit well.

But I want to look in more detail at Claude III Charlot’s sister Madeleine (1734–1800). Once again research has been set back by an amateur genealogy site that confidently posted details of her marriage, said to have taken place in Troyes in 1758, and resulting in many hours of fruitless search. In fact (spoiler alert for those who enjoy a puzzle: at the time of writing you won’t find this indexed online) it was in Vendeuvre-sur-Barse, on 19.ii.1753, that she married François-Nicolas Frémy, sgr de La Marque (1727– ).

That name will of course be familiar to those who know Passez: Mlle Frémy was one of her special pupils, and has always had her entry in the Dictionary of pastellists (and of course Ratouis de Limay etc.). Mlle Frémy is first mentioned in 1781, displaying her “first attempts” at the salon de la Jeunesse; but in fact she was already 27, as we can see from Marie-Magdeleine’s baptismal record in Vendeuvre in 1754:

Fremy bpt

(I should take this opportunity to point out that one of the other celebrated pupils, Mlle Carraux de Rosemond, who appears in the Met painting behind her teacher, was only 20 at the time of the picture. Her background hitherto unknown, she was Swiss, baptised in the canton du Valais 12.ix.1765:

Carraux marguerite bapteme 1765

Her family name does not have an e. Her guardians included Vincent and Suvée.)

Magdeleine Frémy’s parrain was Nicolas Frémy, marchand à Troyes (surely her grandfather, and probably receveur du marquisat de Vendeuvre).[10] She is last mentioned at the time of Claude Labille’s death, when Mme Labille-Guiard left her the furniture from her father’s estate at Étampes (Passez 1973, p. 31). It has been suggested that she looked after Labille in his final years; but she did not attend his burial at Saint-Basile, Étampes, 11.ii.1788.

But I want to revert to her parents’ marriage in Vendeuvre-sur-Barse, not in Troyes, in 1753:

Fremy mariage

It provides several important links. First, the groom, François-Nicolas Frémy, was the son of Nicolas Frémy, seigneur de La Marque and Jeanne Baudouin. The latter was surely a relation of the Pierre Baudouin who attended the burial of Labille-Guiard’s mother. But two witnesses to the marriage are also noteworthy. “Nicolas Guiard, marchand à Paris” was the bride’s uncle (this cannot be the 12-year-old future husband of Adélaïde Labille, but is likely to have been a close relation). Further a cousin of the groom, one François de Vertu “demeurant au Susain”, of whom nothing is known (is his illegible residence a misspelt Sézanne?).

Scholars have puzzled for years over the surname “des Vertus” later used by Labille-Guiard: some have seen it as a nom de fantaisie, and enlisted it in support of feminist theses about women painters. (Strictly speaking, as far as I am aware, she didn’t sign the Académie’s register this way, but her name was entered thus twice in the registers at the time of her admission in 1783; and she used the name again in 1785, when issuing a receipt for her royal pension.) Could she have acquired an estate with this name from a cousin?

In fact another document confirms this theory. This is the renonciation à la succession[11] of one Nicolas-François Charlot des Vertus of 2.ix.1789, in which the surviving children of Claude-Charles Charlot disclaim the estate of their youngest brother. This Charlot des Vertus was the uncle of the Nicolas-François Charlot mentioned above. MM. Charlot des Vertus & Compagnie, Négociants, rue Bourbon Villeneuve, Paris, can be found in a few journals of the time: in 1781 they advertised seeking to collect charitable donations for the city of Troyes following a fire on 24.v.1781 which in less than two hours destroyed 80 houses, causing nine deaths and losses of 200,000 livres. Just days before this Charlot des Vertus advertised[12] for sale a “fermage sis à Vauchonvilliers” (near Troyes) for 6220 livres. I suggest that the reason for the sale was Charlot’s financial situation (resulting in an estate not worth claiming just seven years later), and that other disposals may also have taken place privately, to relatives such as Labille-Guiard herself, including (although the transport has not itself been discovered) the fief of Les Vertus. Today this place may have disappeared – although it could refer to a village just north of Sézanne (about 70 km from Troyes).

The witness at Frémy’s marriage was surely another member of the Charlot family from whom the fiefdom had passed. Whether it had legally been conveyed to Labille-Guiard in 1783, or perhaps just promised, is not yet clear.

Notes

[1] Among the more recent publications is of course Laura Auricchio’s monograph, published by the Getty in 2009; my review of it appeared in Apollo in December 2010, but didn’t have room for these details. Passez itself is rather unhelpfully unencumbered by the dates and details that normally enhance pedigrees and chronologies. For the Met picture itself there is a very comprehensive bibliography here, to which I can add the article by Paul Mantz,“Les portraitistes du XVIIIe siècle. IV”, L’Artiste, xii, 1854, pp. 177-79, in which he describes the picture as “exempte surtout de cette sentimentalité plate et menteuse dont madame Lebrun se montrait si fière”, adding “cette toile vaut mieux que tous les pastels de madame Guyard.”

[2] AN mc/lxxxiv/478. In 1767 Marie-Josèphe Blondelu, then aged 34, married a cousin, François-Antoine Debacq (dispensations de consanguinité, AN Z10 179); later she was remarried, to a Charles Blanvin. Her niece was the artist, Mme Charpentier, née Constance-Marie Blondelu (1767–1849).

[3] 12.vi.1761, AN mc/lxxxiv/477.

[4] AN Y4960B, registres de tutelles, 24.i.1772, concerning a distant relation.

[5] AN 745AP/48, Dossier 9.

[6] Published, like much of the archival material known to date, in baron Roger Portalis’s GBA articles, 1901-2, pp. 98f.

[7] AN Y5129A, 6.v.1785; Y5156B, 18.viii.1787.

[8] Neither his correct date birth nor his first marriage is in Lemoine-Bouchard.

[9] A Hugues Guyard, conseiller at the parlement in 1704, may have been a distant relation.

[10] They were no doubt also related to the Nicolas Frémy, a priest at the cathedral of Troyes.

[11] AN Y 5202. He had died in 1788: inventaire après décès, 29.iv.1788; mc/re/lxxvii/5.

[12] Affiches, annonces et avis divers de Reims et généralité de Champagne, 21.v.1781, p. 82.

The National Gallery’s Eighteenth Century French catalogue

HW

Humphrey Wine’s long-awaited catalogue of the French eighteenth century pictures has now appeared. I shall leave it to others better qualified than I to discuss broader aspects of the book’s achievement and limitations – indeed Wine’s own text is candid about the deficiencies and historical reasons for the NG’s coverage of the dix-huitième compared with its holdings in virtually all other schools and periods.[1]

In the hopes that the NG will soon put its wonderful series of catalogues online, I thought it might nevertheless be helpful to record a few minor observations and tangential remarks I made on a quick read through the book (concentrating on the chapters that interested me). Several years ago I was able to offer a number of comments (on the texts concerning the NG pastels) which the author has generously acknowledged, but further points have arisen since the text was completed (in May 2016 – the delay will confuse many readers, particularly as a few parts, such as the index, were compiled later). I’ve passed over minor typos. Some of the corrigenda below refer to entries by Wine’s contributors (which perhaps he was unable to review): 13 of the 72 entries, and 23 of the 32 artist essays are by others.

Introduction

Page 16. Pillement returned to France in 1760, not 1763.

Page 27. Watteau’s Le Sommeil dangereux in Liotard’s sale: the 1773 catalogue lists 120 guineas as an asking price; it wasn’t sold then. It was finally sold in 1788 for “un vil prix”. The reference cited is Glorieux (who had not seen the 1773 catalogue and relied on Graves: there is a copy in the Frick, from which I prepared the entries in my exhibitions document in the online Dictionary of pastellists) but not the later discussion in Roethlisberger & Loche 2008, p. 153, and the sources cited there.

NG 1090 Boucher

Page 66 n.25. “Gaspard de Sireul”: this form, with the particle, is repeated in the index, although the biographical dates added, 1713–1781, were first published by me in November 2016 in my article on “Jean-Claude-Gaspard Sireul”.

Louis de Boullongne

Page 72. “The year 1722 also brought admission to the Ordre de Saint-Michel… In November 1724 Louis de Boullogne [sic] was ennobled.” However widely repeated, this sequence is not possible: the order can only be conferred on nobles. In Boullongne’s case the explanation is that he was already noble, having acquired the office of Conseiller du roi … en la Chancellerie près le parlement de Rouen in 1718. The 1724 letters so often cited merely made his status more ostensible.[2] Pedantic the point may be, but there is some historical interest in knowing whether the king was prepared to exempt his premier peintre from the chivalric rules everyone else had to observe, or indeed that a second application of savonnette à vilain could be required.

NG 1664 Chardin

Page 85. There are three, not two, pastel self-portraits in the Louvre.

Pages 90, 94. In an image where the cistern is 5 cm tall, the woman’s height is closer to 13 cm than the 17 cm used in this computation. This means the capacity of the cistern is significantly underestimated – at about half the correct number (the linear error is cubed).

Page 103 line 1 and p. 110. Jean-Jacques Lenoir, sgr de La Motte (1707–1796), the son of Alexandre Lenoir, marchand orfèvre à Paris, married Marie-Josèphe Rigo or Rigault in Paris, 12 février 1730 (AN mc/x/388), not 1731.

NG 6598 Danloux

Page 117. Danloux (whose first name was I think properly spelled Henry, not Henri) married Marie-Pierrette-Antoinette de Saint-Redan on 28 juillet 1787, not 1785 (AN mc/xxvi/761).

Page 123. Fig. 8 (J.257.109 in the online Dictionary of pastellists) is a copy (not in pastel but coloured chalk) of the lost Groult oval drawing (in chalk and watercolour) of an unknown lady.

Page 139 n.136. “Jeffares 2011” (my Gazette des Beaux-Arts article on Pommyer) is cited but not found in the bibliography; an update of that article can be found here.

NG 6495 David

Page 143. Exhibitions: The Dutch in Paris 1789–1914, Amsterdam, 2017–18.

The catalogue (in accordance with its rules) appears to make no mention of the other great David in the NG collection, from the nineteenth century.

NG 4253 Drouais Vaudreuil

Page 177. Marguerite Mathilde Slidell, Mme Erlanger died 18 février 1927, in Paris.

Page 178. It is suggested that the painting was originally on a slightly smaller stretcher. There is no discussion of the frame, whose fronton suggests that it was original for the work; it now has uneven spacers at top and bottom, indicating perhaps that the original stretcher was larger, not smaller.

Page 183. Étienne-François, known as the duc de Choiseul (as he is correctly called on p. 191), was the younger, not older, brother of the comte de Stainville. (Stainville is omitted from the index, while Choiseul gets two entries.)

NG 6440 Drouais Pompadour

Page 187. The absence of information on frames is here particularly regretted, as this picture has had three frames recently: see n.12 to my post https://theframeblog.com/2018/10/10/framing-the-louvres-pastels/ where I cite and expand Peter Schade’s note in The National Gallery Review of the Year 2009–2010, pp. 23ff, which itself is omitted from the bibliography.

Page 187. Related works: there are a number of omissions, three copies in pastel alone, nor I think is there mention of the version at Welbeck in 1936 (Goulding no. 254). It is unhelpful that the list on p. 187 has to be compared with p. 190 and then n.21 on p. 197 – which sends one to a different publication entirely. Neither the version sold Drouot, 10 June 1988, Lot 57 (and again at Neuilly, 14 December 1995, Lot 24; Drouot, 21 October 1999, Lot 124; Tajan, 18 December 2018, Lot 38) nor that at Monaco, Sotheby’s, 26 June 1983, Lot 494 seems to have been listed.

Page 190. Reference to the Valade pastel is to J.74.201 (and see my article), but the title is given erroneously as of “Madame Faventines de Fontenille”, daughter-in-law of the Mme Faventines intended.

La Tour’s famous pastel in the Louvre, which has so many relevant connections, is mentioned only in relation to the books it shows her to have read (p. 197, n.20).

Page 197 n.17. The picture sold in Paris, Sotheby’s, 25 June 2008, Lot 66 is not in pastel and is not the one in the inventory.

Page 197 n.26. Thiéry was “employé dans les vivres”. “Veuve Godefroi” deserves her own name: née Marie-Jacobe Van Merle ( –1764).

Ducreux

Page 200. The essay on Ducreux retains such myths as “possibly only pupil” of La Tour. Marie-Antoinette was never Louis XV’s “daughter-in-law”, nor was she Antoinette-Clémence’s godmother. (Georgette Lyon’s book is unreliable, as in the next sentence she transcribes the girl’s baptismal entry, where the marraine is her sister, not the queen of France.) The daughter who modelled for Greuze was not “Antoniette” as misspelled here but her sister Rose-Adélaïde. There were at least two more sons.

NG 1882 “French eighteenth century”

Page 216. This is probably a copy of the 1815 engraving by S. A. Oddy for Smollett’s England, which (unlike the Wille, Basan and Anker Smith prints suggested) is in the same sense as the miniature.

Greuze

Page 220. The dauphine was Marie-Josèphe, not Marie-Louise, de Saxe (although she is indexed with the right dates). Severus’s nomen was Septimius, not Septimus.

NG 5584

On the NG website, the (supposed) sitter’s dates are still given as “about 1732 – 1795” but no dates seem to be given in the catalogue. I published (on Twitter, two years ago) her marriage record giving her age (13 at the time, 26 December 1748).

NG 1019

Page 229. Charles-François-René Mesnard de Clesle’s dates were 1732–1803, not as given.

The 1783 Vigée Le Brun portrait of La Reine en gaulle is elsewhere described as in Eichenzell (p. 526) or Kronberg (p. 518); the picture in the NGA Washington is a later copy.

Page 232. In this article the imperial pouce has been converted at the incorrect 2.54 cm instead of the correct 2.707 cm used in other parts of the book (so for example 14.5 pouces becomes 36.8 instead of 39.25 cm).

NG 1393 Lacroix

Page 245. Why would Grenier de La Croix be related to Charles-François de Lacroix, who had a different family name?

Page 245. Boyer de Fonscolombe was born 1716, not 1719, and died 1789, not 1788. Mrs Tarratt’s dates were 1813–1893 (she died in Cheltenham on 16 June 1893); her son Daniel predeceased her, in 1888, and so could not have inherited from her.

NG 6663 Lagrenée l’aîné

Page 252. Lagrenée’s year of birth is disputed – 1724 or 1725; but when he was appointed Conservateur et administrateur honoraire du Musée he was probably 79, not 80.

Page 253. The bibliography has been omitted. The Goncourt reprint of the Lagrenée list is conveniently available online (nor is there any reference to J. J. Luna’s Lagrenée article in Archivo español de arte, xlvi, 1973, pp. 35ff). The entry omits the price (3000 livres, notably high for two small pictures) of the two pendants sold to Lord Shelburne. Isn’t it quite possible that the painting in Lansdowne’s 25 February 1806 sale was bought in, and simply represented on 19–20 March 1806?

The Morellet–Lansdowne correspondence was published in 1898 (it’s been available online at EE since 2011), and includes references to Mme Geoffrin and Joseph Priestley, who noticed a resemblance between the children and his own; it deserves more extensive discussion, not least because it proves that the subject of the Shelburne pictures included children. The frames and transport costs are also mentioned.

The reading of the Mémoires secrets as interchangeable in hang is too contrived; it surely refers simply to the vagueness of the titles.

The 1806 purchaser, Mr Taylor, cannot be George Watson-Taylor, who only added “Taylor” to his name in 1815 (having married a Miss Taylor in 1810, four years after the sale where “Taylor” is recorded). As Taylor also bought pictures at the Lansdowne sales that year by Titian, Guercino, van Slingeland, van Gool and Pietro Fabris, he was probably a dealer. I suggest he was almost certainly Josiah Taylor (1771–1850). A colourful character who deserves a higher profile, he was the proprietor of the St James’s Gallery of paintings at 58 Pall Mall, where he had previously run a gaming house with Crockford and mixed with high society (the Duke of Wellington is described as “godfather” to Taylor’s son, baptised six months after his birth in 1817). The Lagrenée must have been sold before Taylor’s bankruptcy led to a series of London auctions between 1828 and 1837, when more than 3700 old master paintings were disposed of (including some 70 on copper).

NG 3883 Largillierre

Page 318. Mme de Souscarrière’s dates are known (1684–1733) – they were printed in the Mercure de France, 1733, p. 2089: she died 12 September 1733, aged 49. She married Bosc in January 1704, leaving two daughters.

NG 5118 La Tour, Dawkins

This is J.46.1612 in the online Dictionary of pastellists. Provenance, and n.10 p. 327, “the transaction does not appear in Agnew’s stock books”. It does in fact appear in the (separate) Drawing stock book (also in the National Gallery archives, but not online), as no. 7947, acquired at the Dawkins sale, and sold directly to Charles Clarke on 20 September 1917 for £2700. The firm was acting on its own account, and William Lockett Agnew must have borrowed the pastel from stock in 1913 (according to the books).

Liotard

Page 340. This alludes to my observation (first published in 2016 here and reprinted here) that Liotard’s contract with Massé was of allouage, not apprentissage, but the contract did have a “pedagogical” element – “[Massé] promet montrer [Liotard] tout ce dont il se mêle et entremêle dans l’art de la peinture”. What was different was that it did not lead to maîtrise.

Page 340. The greatest works listed in the autobiography were four in number; the self-portrait described could be that in Geneva or the Uffizi picture. The Uffizi inscription spells Vienne correctly.

NG 4460 Liotard, Grand vizier

This is J.49.2425 in the online Dictionary of pastellists.

NG 5586 Nattier Balletti

Page 352. Exhibitions: omits Portraits anciens, Société artistique des amateurs, Galerie Jacques Seligmann, hôtel de Sagan, mars–avril 1933, no. 29, where the work was mentioned in all the contemporary reviews and reproduced in Vanderpyl, “Portraits d’autrefois”, Le Miroir du monde, 8 avril 1933, p. 6. (These were also overlooked by Xavier Salmon in his 1999 exhibition catalogue.) More recently the picture was in the Casanova: the seduction of Europe exhibition in Fort Worth, San Francisco and Boston, 2017–18.

The picture has been widely reproduced beyond the references cited.

Page 358 n.1. The Dictionary (J.46.2972) reproduces the La Tour pastel of Silvia said to be known only from the print. The provenance of the La Tour pastel and the Nattier oil are intertwined with the intricacies of the Balletti/Fortier pedigree, for which see here.

As to the argument that NG 5586 might have been commissioned by one of Manon’s suitors, the pedigree illustrates (as is suggested by the eight family portraits in the 1759 inventory) that the Balletti family had connections with a number of artists, starting with Rosalba Carriera (as I signalled on this blog and in my annotated transcription of her diaries): Margherita Balletti, the wife of composer Bononcini and Manon’s aunt, sought advice on miniature painting from Carriera, who in turn made a miniature of her brother-in-law, Luigi Riccoboni. Also active in Manon’s circle was the artist Balletti mentions in a later part of the 7 February 1760 letter to Casanova cited on p. 356. In this she refers to the amateur actor in her group (rather more talented as an artist), Louis-Michel Brun, dit Lebrun, peintre du roi, who is known as a miniaturist (although practically none of his work has survived) and nephew of Jean-Baptiste Van Loo. My recent research (see the article on his daughter Rosalie, Mme Vaïsse and genealogy) reveals that his wife was a Blondel, so the relationship may have been even closer than the letter suggests. He was probably the miniaturist Lebrun to whom the princesse de Talmont wished to lend La Tour’s pastel of Prince Charles Edward Stuart to be copied in 1759 (the suggestion – elsewhere – that this was Louis-Michel’s father Michel Brun, dit Lebrun cannot be right, as he died in 1753). Was he (or his mother – “de Lebrun” could be dame or dite) the Lebrun present at Tocqué’s marriage to Marie-Catherine-Pauline Nattier in 1747?

The group of black and red chalk drawings formerly attributed to Nattier, including the one of “Mlle Balevi”, remain problematic. Should we consider among the possible artists Nattier’s son-in-law, the painter Charles-Michel-Ange Challe, whose widow bequeathed a couple of pastels “ouvrage fait avec soin par Mr Challe quoi que ce ne fut point son genre”? To the numerous examples known (which go well beyond those cited on p. 358: Phyllis Hattis first started to list them in 1977) should now be added the double portrait[3] of Mlle Baron et sa mère, formerly in the Schwitter collection: its quality perhaps requires us to reconsider the attribution of others in the group – not least because the two figures in the drawing seem to show quite different techniques without being by different hands. Were we (going back to Xavier Salmon’s Apollo article in 1997, in the days when articles with 47 footnotes were published there) too hasty in dismissing Nattier? As noted by Philippe Renard (Nattier, 1999, p. 166f, where the six drawings from the Guérault sale are reproduced), Nattier’s daughter Mme Challe mentioned in her will “…un petit cadre noir et or renfermant sous verre six têtes de la famille dessinées par mon père” and “un grand cadre renfermant sous verre huit têtes de la famille et d’amis.”

NG 6435 Perronneau Cazotte

Page 370. The painting appeared in the recent Perronneau exhibition in Orléans in 2017 (no. 56).

Page 378. The suggestion that Perronneau asked Cazotte to wear a costume not his own strikes me as far-fetched. The wig is indeed the style Beaumont called “à la mousquetaire” – but indistinguishable from the ailes de pigeon style, the much commoner term, employed for Vaudreuil (p. 181) – which makes the idea of dating from it questionable.

Page 378. It is perhaps worth noting that Cazotte’s large collection included no pastel, providing a hint as to why Perronneau was commissioned to paint him in oil (the sitter’s choice).

NG 4063 Perronneau Legrix

This is J.582.1522 in the online Dictionary of pastellists. The pastel appeared in the recent Perronneau exhibition in Orléans in 2017 (no. 59). It was also reproduced in The Sphere, 4.iv.1925, p. 15.

Page 382. Marthe-Marie-Madeleine Legrix married Dublan not in 1759, but 19 juin 1760, in Talence.

NG 3588 “Perronneau” Girl with kitten

This is J.582.189 in the online Dictionary of pastellists. See the entry for a fuller bibliography, including for example Florence Ingersoll-Smouse.

Page 388. Provenance (p. 396 n.4: “There is no certain reference to NG 3588 in the Duveen Brothers records”): for an extended discussion of the information gleaned from the multiple references in the Duveen records, see my blog post.

Page 390. The presence of zinc and tin in recent examination of the “Perronneau” does raise questions which in the present state of our knowledge of materials used in pastel (whether pigments themselves, or the fillers or binders) cannot be definitively answered. But the occurrences in two Liotard pastels (both in his studio at the end of his life) are arguably less relevant than Chaperon’s manual of Paris procedures which Perronneau (who, unlike Liotard, was no maverick, and who had not travelled to the East) is more likely to have followed in 1743. The reasons for questioning the pastel’s authenticity are primarily connoisseurial.

Page 391. “Demoyel” was a misprint in Guiffrey’s 1869 reprint of the 1746 livret (and repeated elsewhere); the name was originally printed Desnoyel as I have at J.582.129. The child might be one of the sons of Charles Desnoyel ou Desnoyelles, a maître charcutier, rue Saint-Honoré; the cock then a reference to the family business.

Page 392. In the quote from me “[weaknesses]” is supplied where “pastiche elements” is intended.

Page 394. The “certain Brown” was Eric Brown, director of the National Gallery of Canada, with whom Ricketts had an extended correspondence.

Page 396 n.3. The “Two pastels by Perronneau of the same lady in different positions” in Duveen’s stock books were the pastels later sold to Edward Stotesbury (see my blog post).

NG 903 Rigaud studio

Page 433. “recently”: 2004.

NG 5588 After Roslin

Page 435. Numerous related works have been omitted, including an engraving by Gautier-Dagoty; see the list in pastellists.com for MV 6763, J.629.156 and the following items.

Page 438 n.15. François was indeed Fredou’s brother-in-law.

NG 4097 Tocqué

Page 472 & 603. “1920–1 London, Burlington Fine Arts Club”: it isn’t immediately obvious which exhibition this is. The painting is reproduced and discussed in The Connoisseur, lxii, 1922, pp. 199, 238, where the suggestion that it had been exhibited in the Burlington Fine Arts Club may have originated.

NG 3964 After Tocqué

Page 483 and n.30. The “hypothesis” I suggested was the identification of the Orléans sitter as Joseph-Thérèse, not his associé position.

Vigée Le Brun

Page 518. Did Mme Geoffrin and the duchesse de Chartres really commission Mlle Vigée c.1769? The claims of the latter are not verified, but at least link to her text (the earliest portrait known is 1778, and Vigée Le Brun often distorted dates); but Mme Geoffrin visited only as far as I know.

Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun was the great-great-nephew, not great-nephew, of Charles Le Brun.

NG 1653 Self-portrait

Page 519. The A. P. Pickering of 23 Queens Gardens was Arthur Proctor Pickering (1818–1902), a solicitor, and brother of the barrister Percival Andre Pickering QC (1810–1876) referred to on p. 530 n.1. The sale was not posthumous, nor apparently forced: A. P. Pickering’s estate was valued at nearly £25,000. The dealer identified here only as “S. T. Smith” was Samuel Theobald Smith (1842–1904), grandson of the famous John Smith who (in the 1820s) had handled the other (i.e. Rubens) Chapeau de paille now in the National Gallery.

Page 520. The only reason to assume that the self-portrait (lent by M. Péan de Saint-Gilles) from the 1891 exhibition of works from “the beginning of the [19th] century” should relate to the NG picture seems to be the description in Helm 1915, p. 207 (not cited): he must have seen it to offer the description, but he specifically separates it from the versions of the NG painting and suggests a later date. (It is however worth noting that Armand-Louis-Henri Péan de Saint-Gilles (1791–1860) was co-exécuteur of the will of Vigée Le Brun’s brother Louis-Jean-Baptiste-Étienne in 1820.)

Pages 527f. In addition to the numerous salon critiques cited, the original version is also discussed in the “Letter from a gentleman on a tour in Paris, to his friend in London”, which appeared in the Morning chronicle and London advertiser, 19 September 1783, but is omitted from standard bibliographies of salon criticism (e.g. McWilliam & al. 1991).

Page 530. Baillio’s 1987 letter, 31 years ago, should be viewed in the context of his decision to reproduce a print instead of NG 1653 when the primary version of the painting was not available for the French edition of the 2015-16 catalogue (that version was subsequently reproduced in the later English language version). Haroche-Bouzinac’s biography, of which the note on p. 552 is cited on p. 530, reproduced the NG on the cover of the first printing (January 2012, despite the copyright date of 2011) but replaced it with a reproduction of the original on the next impression (October 2013).

NG 5871 Mlle Brongniart

Page 538. Anne-Louise d’Aigremont was not Hazon’s granddaughter. Émilie’s brother Alexandre married, in 1800, Jeanne-Cécile Coquebert de Monbret (1782–1862), petite-fille de Michel-Barthélémy Hazon, who was only 19 years older than Mlle d’Aigremont. (The error also appears in Anne Lajoix’s article on Brongniart in The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory exhibition catalogue, 1997.)

Page 539. I published the complete list of the petitioners here including a reproduction of Brongniart’s signature.

Page 543 n.2. Whether the “Adam” who bought the picture in 1897 was Charlotte Adam-Pichon or her mother is settled by consulting the 1901 exhibition catalogue, where the lender is explicitly mentioned as “Mme Adam, née Pichon”, i.e. the mother. The sources giving her death as 1896 are mistaken: online genealogies give it as “after 3 June 1896”, while consulting the État civil for Paris 8e reveals that in fact she died on 29 October 1929. Similarly (n.3) “one Mme Off” is a reference to Mme Adam’s other daughter, Rosalie-Josephine-Victoire (1870– ), who married, in 1896, one Georges Off.

Notes

[1] Perhaps a topic that may not be covered in the conventional reviews is that the NG’s aversion to the French eighteenth century in its permanent collection has been largely mirrored in its choice of temporary exhibitions: the pictures from Lille shown in 1993, Tradition & revolution in French art 1700–1880, tried to argue for a continuous tradition, a thesis anathema to any dix-huitiémiste (will the impending Boilly show be able to avoid this?), while the London leg of the Pompadour show in 2002 was such a pale version of the Versailles exhibition that it elicited scathing treatment from Richard Dorment and Alden Gordon – the latter blaming the then director rather than the NG curator.

[2] The numerous roturiers on whom it was conferred first had to buy ennobling offices before their admission. The small number of those (mostly foreigners) entitled by letter of the king to wear the decoration à titre honorifique were not members of the order: see Benoît Defauconpret, Les Preuves de noblesse au xviiie siècle, 1999, p. 86. Caix de Saint-Aymour’s 1919 monograph on Les Boullongne gives the clearest account of Boullongne’s case and reproduces in an appendix the 1722 document of admission to the order, including the 1718 proof of nobility which satisfied Clairambault.

[3] Lyon, Bérard Péron, 1.x.2016, Lot 10; subsequently shown by Talabardon & Gautier at the Salon du dessin in 2007, where it reportedly sold for a six-figure sum.

 

 

Duveen’s pastels

Perronneau JF au chat NG Duveen albumEveryone reading this will know of the art dealers Duveen Brothers, probably because of their association with the famous expert Bernard Berenson and the much discussed conflicts of interest arising from their relationship. Plenty of books have followed, so there is no need for me to say more. And some of you will be aware that the firm’s records are available online, at the Getty Research Institute’s portal. They’ve been available since 2007, but it’s fair to say that the sheer volume of material makes these files rather hard to use, and accordingly I suspect they have not yielded all their gems.

Browsing through the archives one cannot escape some reflections on the nature of the business. First, particularly in the early years, pictures were only a tiny part of what was a general antiques and decorators’ business. The stock books (the best place to start) have everything from rolls of fabric and slabs of marble to miniatures and even a Michelangelo sculpture (though at a price that suggests otherwise). There are Romneys more valued than Rembrandts, and knick-knacks the inadequacies of whose description disables cynicism. Of course when one of the magic names can be claimed, it will be: clients want to know whether it’s a Reynolds or a Gainsborough, not whether it’s a great example by a lesser name: it has always been thus. So the eighteenth-century portraitists admitted into the fold included also Hoppner, Nattier and Vigée Le Brun – but remarkably few others. However in amongst the tens of thousands of objects there are some great masterpieces, and even a few significant pastels. It is the latter that I want to note here. Among pastellists, the roll call is short – and slightly surprising: the inevitable Rosalba (but sold in pairs with nothing to identify them); the newly saleable Daniel Gardner; lots of John Russell; four “Perronneaus” and even some Coypels (of these more below) – but oddly no La Tour. Liotard of course was unknown then, at least in the furniture trade.

The business model seems to be very client-focused: the traditional trope of the wealthy but ignorant American (of course there were exceptions) to be fed by a vast quantity of items sent on approval. The accountancy practices might raise some eyebrows, as many of these transactions are recorded as firm sales when the items return soon after (for the same price) and receive new stock numbers. The huge range of items surely meant that the firm could not have been expert in all these fields – an impression reinforced by the amount of trade between dealers and intermediaries. Most depressing of all are the summary descriptions of so many items – “2 small oval pastels of ladies” and so on, which even I can’t usefully record in the Dictionary.

JeansAnother unusual feature from a modern perspective is the absence of catalogued exhibitions. An exception was an exhibition of “ten pastel drawings by John Russell, RA”, the (unillustrated) catalogue for which bears no date, but must have been about 1911, since an additional item at the end was Gardner’s Sir John Taylor, which the firm bought and sold that year. One of the Russells is the magnificent Mrs Jeans now in the Louvre (J.64.1863) and which I blogged about before (and here); I had worked out then that it had been sold c.1910, but I didn’t know to whom. Duveen sold it on within the trade; it was the firm Jacques Seligmann that sold the pastel (in 1919) to Mme Démogé (she eventually gave it to the Louvre). Among the other “Russells” in that show were three which corresponded to pictures Williamson 1894 had catalogued as lost. (We know the firm had a copy of Williamson, as it was meticulously recorded in the London stock book, purchased in February 1901 from Sotheran’s for £4/10/-.) The Duveen versions have been lost again, so it isn’t possible to form a useful view as to whether they were tempted to borrow the names to decorate anonymous works, just as spies are said to adopt the identities of dead infants.

gri_2007_d_1_b512_f01_129An insight into the firm’s practices can be seen in this entry, for the rather wonderful Labille-Guiard pastel exhibited in 1783, Mme Mitoire et ses enfants (J.44.221), shown here in its splendid frame. What the invoice shows is that the purchase (from Kraemer frères, recorded in July 1901) was sold on “after copy made”. That work is surely the pastel I catalogue as a copy (J.44.224) on appearance only; it has been sold repeatedly, between 1919 and 2018, as autograph, and appears in Mme Passez’s catalogue raisonné as such (no. 44):

Mitoire

Gardner Lady with Mask Abbot HallAnother example is the Gardner pastel of an unknown Lady holding a mask of Comedy, now in the Abbot Hall Art Gallery (my J.338.1901). This was purchased for £500 in 1906 from a Mr Fulcher, but Duveen also paid 30 guineas (to Vicars Brothers, another dealer in Bond Street) to have a copy made to “give” to the vendor. Recorded without identity in the 1906 stock book, the following year it is annotated as “Miss Ross of Cromarty”: a somewhat improbable suggestion as the Ross of Cromarty at the time had a (deceased) son but no daughter.

A good set of Rosalba’s Four Seasons was purchased in 1901 from the celebrated antiquaire Mme Lelong in Paris. (They could well be the protoypes for the set of copies now in Bergen op Zoom, Markiezenhof.) They were divided – the records are confusing as to which seasons were in which – with two being sold almost immediately to the Duke of Marlborough for a generous mark-up (£4750, against £700 allocated cost). The stock book indicates that “Mr Joe says write off 1/2”. The Duke sent his two back the following year. Either they or the other two were sent then to George Jay Gould in Lakewood before again being returned; Duveen sold them to Lucius Peyton Green and his wife in Los Angeles. One of them is now in the Huntington Library (J.21.1353), the others lost. Other pastels in public collections for which this research has uncovered hitherto unknown provenances include the Coypel marquise de Lamure (J.2472.174) in the Worcester Art Museum and those mentioned below.

Perronneau Mme Richemont

But most surprising perhaps is the number of Perronneau pastels that can be found in the books. One of them, Mme Le Boucher de Richemont (J.582.1518), is uncontroversial – setting aside the minute point that the inscription the Duveen stock book records (in translation), “peinte en mars 1770, âgée de 42 ans et 7 mois”, implies she was born in 1727, not 1728; and I can add now that she died in 1797 – but apart from that everything is correct in the recent Dictionary entries, up to the 2015 sale when it sold for $5000 (or $6250 with costs). Duveen bought it at the Cronier sale in 1905 for 10,600 francs (£469 then, about £50,000 today adjusted for RPI inflation), and sold it four years later for 11,710 francs (to Alphonse Kann).

You will all recognise the famous National Gallery “Perronneau” (inv. NG 3588; my J.582.189) at the head of this article, given by Sir Joseph Duveen to the nation in 1921. I have previously said that too much has already been written about this wretched pastel which I and many others regard as “wrong”. I had rather hoped that Humphrey Wine’s new National Gallery catalogue would finally complete the story and spare me the need to mention it again. But while I commend the essay on this picture to you, there are some critical gaps in the story which I think worth filling in. I don’t just mean the omission of references in the literature (although I should not have missed out Florence Ingersoll-Smouse in La Revue de l’art ancien et moderne, xli, 1922, repr. p. 401, where it is described as “le plus séduisant portrait d’enfant de Perronneau…le chat merveilleusement rendu”), nor the fact that Charles Ricketts’s letter to “a certain Brown” was to Eric Brown, director of the National Gallery of Canada. And here I pass over the technical discussion.

Rather I want to deal with Wine’s footnotes 3 and 4 on his p. 396 which are founded on the idea that “there is no certain reference to NG 3588 in the Duveen Brothers records.” Indeed his provenance shows no event between the purchase from Lady Dorothy at an uncertain date to the donation to the NG in 1921. He explores instead the reference which he did find in the records to “2 pastels by Perronneau of the same lady in different positions” bought from Lady Dorothy Nevill in December 1902 for £366/7/7 and sold to Sir Joseph in 1908, cautiously concluding that the discrepancies in the description preclude certain identification of either with NG 2588.

In fact those two “Perronneaus” are the works supplied by Duveen to Edward Stotesbury in Philadelphia. They were sent on approval in 1922, but not paid for until 1930 (for $15,000) after a letter chasing payment (the invoice listing “A pair of Old French Pastels. Portraits of Ladies by PERRONNEAU” in Mrs Stotesbury’s boudoir):

Stotesbury letter

Unfortunately many clients were unable to provide pastels with a museum-standard environment. By 19 March 1930 the housekeeper at Whitemarsh Hall sent them back to Duveen Brothers to be “put in first class condition” before the Stotesburys returned, on1 April: they were not ready by then, as Duveen explained to the staff:

gri_960015_b516_f001_179

They depict one of Lady Dorothy’s ancestors, Mrs Thomas Walpole, née Elizabeth Van Neck. The pendants have since been split up, and their attributions confused and identities lost: in the 1944 Stotesbury sale, a pastel by Valade took on the name of Elizabeth Van Neck, the Perronneaus now unidentified. One (which you won’t find in Arnoult 2014 – it is J.582.1798), anonymous French school in 1944, sold last year as anonymous British school for $1250, a tiny fraction of the price Stotesbury paid, although its present condition is poor and it has lost the magnificent frame in which Duveen’s photograph showed it.

But returning to NG 3588, there is indeed not one, but numerous certain references to be found in the Duveen archive if you have the patience. Easiest to find is the image among the album of 40 photographs of pictures from the French school, which I show above. Of course the pastel is known from many reproductions, going back to the colour plate accompanying Lady Dorothy’s article about her own collection published in The Connoisseur in February 1902. Wine thought its reuse in 1909 might indicate the date when Duveen acquired the pastel. In fact Duveen bought it much earlier – just a few months after Lady Dorothy’s article appeared. And the circumstances are (almost) exactly as Edward Fowles relates in his 1976 memorandum (as you will find in Wine), writing about events that occurred 74 years before – when he, as the 17-year-old office boy, was sent to the bank to collect £1000 in gold sovereigns for the quaint old lady. That £1000 cost is indeed what we see from the London stock book entry:

Perronneau JF au chat NG 3588 Duveen 1902 acq

What we also see, and which perhaps as office boy Fowles didn’t know, was that a 10% commission was payable to one “Kopp”. I think Fowles would have mentioned this if he knew, because much later in his memoir he has a wonderful story about this confidence trickster. Gottfried Kopp, of humble origins, reinvented himself as Godfrey von Kopp, an Austrian aristocrat, setting up an art dealing business in Rome, Paris and London, in the course of which he “sold” the original Arch of Constantine to one American tycoon, and Trajan’s Column to another. Needless to say the transactions involved advance fees, and delivery did not follow. In 1905 bankruptcy proceedings were commenced against him in London, and he was not heard of again.

In any case Duveen had acquired his “Perronneau”, for the not insignificant sum of £1100 (multiply by at least 100 for RPI inflation, any larger number you like for purchasing power equivalence). The business depended on cashflow as much as profit, and as you can follow from the books it was sold almost immediately to one of Duveen’s American clients, Mrs Mason. You need to consult the sales ledger to find the price (and Perronneau’s name doesn’t appear there, but the stock numbers are unambiguous): £2700.

Mason

This was Mrs T. Henry Mason, née Emma Jane Powley (1850–1918), previously Mrs Lewis; her second husband, whom she married in 1899, was a mining tycoon who died in 1902. She lived in New York, Paris and London. She had form in the return stakes. In May 1906 Duveen sold her the magnificent Coypel of the Jullienne couple now in the Met (J.2472.171); she returned it in August. Duveen records also note other pastels sold to her, as well as a disturbingly high invoice of $1042.10 for “restoring three pastels”. Correspondence after her death indicates that one of the Russells Duveen had bought back from her (Mrs Meyrick, described as “very fine” when original despatched to her in July 1901) was in such poor condition that it could be sold for decorative purposes only.

In any case, NG 3588 came back to London, although not necessarily to Duveen Brothers itself. It may be that Sir Joseph privately tried to market it through other channels. It seems highly likely that this was the “Lady with a cat, a large and magnificent pastel in blue tones”, advertised by the dealer Albert Berthel, 32 Museum Street, London, in The Connoisseur, May 1918, p. xiv, for the price of £450 (a more realistic level, perhaps suggesting that Duveen had found it difficult to shift – unless of course it was simply a copy):

Berthel

Fairly soon after, another Duveen client received NG 3588: one “Mrs Webb”. Duveen had two clients of this name: one was Mary Welsh Randolph, Mrs Francis Egerton Webb (1868–1962) of 405 Park Ave, but I suspect this was Electra Havemeyer, Mrs James Watson Webb (1888–1960), collector and founder of the Shelburne Museum. Perhaps Duveen had not noticed that Mrs Webb’s tastes had changed, and instead of the French dix-huitième, she was now focused on simple New England folk art. In any case, once again the work came back, in August 1921, the refund of £1650 no doubt representing the price Mrs Webb had been invoiced.

ex webb

Perronneau JF au chat NG

By this stage Duveen had had enough. He ordered a rather splendid (if opulently proportioned) Louis XV reproduction frame from Cadres Lebrun (the firm still exists but Mme Fouquin Lebrun has kindly informed me that their archives only go back to 1931) for 2200 francs (about £44, say £4400 today) in time to present the pastel to the National Gallery.

Postscript (19 December):

Ólafur Þorvaldsson has kindly drawn my attention to a second image in the Duveen archive, showing NG 3588 in the frame it had before Cadres Lebrun came to the rescue:

ot

 

A Liotard sleeper

Liotard Dormeuse 3At the time of the Liotard exhibition in London in 2015, I noted that some visitors might go away with the impression that Liotard was a brilliant enamellist, a great oil painter, an exquisite draughtsman…but rather less accomplished as a pastellist than might have been expected. That was a comment about the difficulties of obtaining the best pastels for loan exhibitions, in turn because their owners are justifiably concerned for their safety in transit, and because a good proportion of the pastels have already lost some of their original impact. But the enamels have not: they are as fresh as the day they were done, and their rarity (only a couple of dozen survive) gives them an added cachet.

Jean-Étienne Liotard’s initial training in Geneva was as a miniaturist and enamellist and in some ways he retained those instincts throughout his life. So, while (as readers of this blog will recall) he failed to win acceptance in France as the genius he perceived himself to be (and as many today now recognise), contemporaries made an exception for his enamels, seeing in him the reincarnation of Petitot, another Protestant Genevois whose exquisite distillations of the court of Louis XIV thrill us today. Thus Saint-Yves[1] (1748) was willing to lament the absence from the Louvre exhibitions at least of Liotard’s enamels, an art which the French had allowed to die since Petitot brought it to perfection:

On avoit laissé périr parmi nous un art que Petitau avoit porté à sa perfection, & que M. Liotard vient de nous rendre. Pourquoi le Public est il privé du plaisir d’en voir les ouvrages au Salon?

(We know also, from Liotard’s own autobiography, written in 1760, that the artist had borrowed and copied a Petitot enamel in his youth – while still at Geneva, before 1723: “Celui qui le lui avoit prêté étoit Peintre, & fut trompé en prenant la copie pour l’original.”)

Liotard as we know was not allowed into the salons du Louvre, and would exhibit instead at the Académie de Saint-Luc – pastels only in 1751 and 1753, mainly pastels but some drawings and one enamel – a self-portrait – in 1752. Moving to England soon after, he returned to the craft of enamelling once more. The process is elaborate and required equipment he would not always have had available during his travels, so it is unsurprising that he worked only occasionally in the medium.

Of course as always the first place to turn for anything about Liotard is the 2008 edition of Roethslisberger & Loche which reproduces all the enamels beautifully. Or not quite all – for one, cat. no. 387[2], has been missing since it was last mentioned in 1774. And thanks to a private collector with an excellent eye it has now been rescued, and appears with his kind permission at the top of this article.

Although the enamel itself is unsigned, it was found mounted in a late 18th century giltwood frame (probably French, 1770s), which has Liotard’s signature on the back:

Liotard Dormeuse v det 3

That takes us straight to the exhibitions and auction where Liotard tried to dispose of his collections – of old master pictures and of his own work, with catalogues that provide some complicated information which you need to turn to R&L to decipher. Notably the Christie’s sale of April 1774, where Lot 62 on the second day was “A lady sleeping, enamel”, estimated at £30. (It followed an enamel by Petitot, of Chancellor Le Tellier; the unanswerable question crosses one’s mind as to whether this might in fact be Liotard’s own copy with which he so proudly duped the owner of the original.) The Lady sleeping was recorded as sold to “Del.”, apparently an abbreviation of “Deleroux”, the name recorded against a dozen or so lots in the sale. But the Christie’s annotated sale catalogue is treacherous, as are the second-hand reports of the earlier selling exhibitions that Liotard organised in Paris and London. For example the Watteau painting which Liotard owned, Le Sommeil dangereux, was listed in his 1773 London exhibition with a price of 120 guineas – reported by Graves as the sale price.[3] It was then included in the Christie’s auction the following year, apparently being sold to the same Deleroux for 12 guineas, but in fact unsold. It was finally disposed of by Liotard’s son in 1788 for “un vil prix”. Deleroux was evidently a straw man, and the subsequent fate of the present enamel until its recent re-emergence remains a mystery.

But the catalogues for these exhibitions and sale do provide some crucial evidence: in the Paris 1771 show, the same item (no. 93) was “Une dormeuse, en émail, d’après Santerre. Par le même [Liotard]”.

Based on that alone, R&L speculated that the work might relate to a painting by Jean-Baptiste Santerre known from an engraving in 1711 by N. Château, of which an oil version had passed through Drouot. Fortunately Santerre’s work has been catalogued, by Claude Lesné (BSHAF, 1988): a number of genre pieces are known, several of which were engraved by Nicolas Château, and the new enamel does in fact correspond with Lesné’s no. 52, a Jeune femme dormant. The original is no longer known, but a number of copies have passed through the salerooms and there are oil versions in the musée Hyacinthe-Rigaud at Perpignan, where it is known as Femme turque endormie (apparently on account of the turban: there is little specifically Turkish about it, but it may nevertheless have caught Liotard’s fancy), and this version at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona:

Santerre Dormeuse MNAC Barcelona

We should not forget just how enormously popular these Santerre figures were at the time. He was perhaps the Rotari of his day. A passage in an article on Santerre by a marchand joaillier and picture dealer called Nicolas Malafaire in the Nouveau Mercure (September 1718, p. 73) explains, and might even refer to, this Santerre figure:

C’est dans ce tems-là, qu’il imagina de peindre seulement une demi-figure dans chaque Tableau, qui represtentât un art, une science, ou quelques actions naïves, ausquelles il sçut donner une finesse de pensées & d’expressions, qui lui étoit toute particuliere. La nouveauté & l’agrément, qui étoient dans ces Ouvrages, les firent estimer universellement, & donna l’envie à plusieurs d’en avoir: Mais, le Peintre employoit beaucoup de tems à les faire; c’est pourquoi on se les arrachoit, pour ainsi dire, des mains; & on les poussa à un prix si considerable, qu’une personne donna jusqu’à cent pistolles d’une seule demi-figure qui représentait une dormeuse.

But it is the Château engraving to which we should turn for a more explicit description of the erotic purpose of this image:

Chateau ar Santerre Dormeuse

Here are the verses (which there’s no need for me to translate):

Ne reveilléz point cette Belle
Marchéz doucement parlez bas;
Epouse encore toute nouvelle
Le repos nourrit ses apas

Fidelle au Dieu de L’hymenée
Elle veut en avoir son fruit;
Et ne dort pendant la journée
qu’afin de mieux veiller la nuit.

When did Liotard make the enamel, and from what source? The popularity of Santerre continued for a long time. Indeed one finds numerous pastel copies of another popular Santerre piece, known incorrectly as Mlle Desmares but again popularised by an engraving by Château, 1708; in 1763 Guillibaud even adapted the print, giving it a new face to produce a portrait of Mme Revilliod de La Rive (J.367.145). Even more proximate, yet another Santerre piece, La Géométrie – again known from numerous probably secondary versions (Darmstadt, Tours etc.), and a print, by Claude Bricart (1711) – was copied not once, but twice, by Liotard’s brother Jean-Michel. The drawing, dated 1762, is reproduced in R&L (cat. no. JML36, fig. 894); the pastel version which has recently surfaced on the art market (J.4912.101) is here:

LiotardJM Geometrie

R&L also note that in Liotard’s collection was a painting by Santerre of a Dame riant, perhaps more accurately known as La Menaceuse, the title under which it was probably exhibited in the salon of 1704. Again a picture of which numerous versions are known, the premier peintre Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre did not much like it when Liotard tried to sell it to the French royal collection, annotating the picture on Liotard’s list “Mauvais, a tout hazard”; Santerre it seems had fallen out of favour by 1785.

All of this suggests that Liotard’s enamel of La Dormeuse could have been made at any stage of his career. My own view however is that the work might well belong to the very earliest period when he was still in Geneva. This is based on the strong similarities with the only surviving enamel from that period, the Sélène et Endymion in the Musée de l’horlogerie de de l’émaillerie at Geneva (inv. E 137; R&L 7), signed and dated 1722:[4]

Liotard Selene et Endymion Geneve

This, as Hans Boeckh discovered, was based on a painting by Trevisani of which the original is in Kassel, and does not seem to have been in Geneva at the time Liotard’s enamel was made. Once again which version or print was copied eludes us. But what is clear is that, well before Liotard’s arrival in Paris, he had the skill to produce an extremely sophisticated work in a technically demanding medium. The artist to whom he was briefly apprenticed, Daniel Gardelle (1679–1753 – a distant relative through the Mussard family), specialised in miniatures on vellum but also worked in enamel (one example was jointly signed with his brother Robert): Liotard claimed in his autobiography that he stayed with Gardelle only four months, and already worked in miniature, enamel, oil and pastel. The Dormeuse, at 8.3×6.4cm, is on an enamel plaque of similar shape to the Selene (5.2×7.0): Sturm suggests that the latter may have been intended as the lid of a snuff box, but the orientation and case of the Dormeuse makes this less likely.

In any case this is a work which Liotard seems to have retained for half a century before it disappeared for another two and a half.

Notes

[1] Charles Léoffroy de Saint-Yves, Observations sur les arts et sur quelques morceaux de peinture et de sculpture, exposés au Louvre en 1748, où il est parlé de l’utilité des embellisements dans les villes, 1748, p. 114.

[2] Page 537 of R&L; the picture is also mentioned on pp. 143 and 426; without an image it was impossible to place it chronologically.

[3] The was reported, with doubts, in Glorieux’s 2006 survey of Watteau prices (Glorieux had not seen the 1773 catalogue and relied on Graves: there is a copy in the Frick, from which I prepared the entries in my exhibitions document on pastellists.com), but of course cleared up in R&L, p. 153. Nevertheless a very recently published museum catalogue failed to refer to R&L.

[4] In addition to R&L, there is a good account by Fabienne-Xavière Sturm in the Liotard 2002 exhibition catalogue, and of course Hans Boeckh’s account of the work in Genava, xxxvii, 1989, pp. 117–28. Sturm believed that Gardelle did not work in enamel, but R&L corrected this.

Postscript (10 December 2018)

The enamel was almost certainly purchased soon after the Christie’s sale by Liotard’s great patron, the future Lord Bessborough, as it appeared in his sale, 6 February 1801, Lot 8 (A girl sleeping, an enamel), sold 14 guineas (see R&L p. 162).

Towards a La Tour catalogue

La Tour Auto SQPerhaps one of the biggest questions facing art history is the choice between paper and virtual publishing. There is so much in favour of online approaches (whether structured databases or simply posting book-like documents online) that it is perhaps surprising that the debate hasn’t been decided. But the most serious obstacle has yet to be overcome: the feeling of the book in the hand. You can put three thousand pages of data online, but three hundred pages on paper will impress some people more. I don’t need to list the multitude of advantages of the online approach (ranging from cost to the ability to search and update), but perhaps from time to time it is sensible to lay out more clearly what can already be found online – and where.

On the other hand, when I last wrote about this on my blog, I said in answer to the impermanence concern that “my Dictionary for example is available on the UK Web Archive”. Try the link: it doesn’t work any more. (You can now find the periodic snapshots at a revised UK web archive site, starting here.)

Of course there remain a surprising number of serious art historians who haven’t mastered even the basics of working online, whether it’s Ctrl+F or Ctrl++ (must I explain that “small” images in my pdfs can simply be viewed at 400% enlargement and fill the screen?). I also don’t have a complete answer to the problem that online work isn’t taken seriously: it is freely pillaged without acknowledgement, and – what is worse – is frequently ignored by other scholars who seem not to mind overlooking facts that you’ve published online when they’d be mortified to discover that these facts had appeared in print.

One artist sits at the heart of my Dictionary of pastellists and its online reincarnation, Pastels & pastellists: Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, and as the material I’ve written about him is spread over so many files within the site, let me take the opportunity to set it out as one might the table of contents of a monograph. Remember that while there have been hundreds of books about La Tour, especially on the Saint-Quentin collection, and a major exhibition in 2004, the last catalogue raisonné was published in 1928 by Georges Wildenstein (with an introduction by Albert Besnard, generously given co-author status on the title page: we all know it as B&W). And the only book published in English, by Adrian Bury, is next to useless (how can one have confidence in a monograph which reproduces a work by a different artist on the cover?).

The preface would of course have to confront the fundamental question for any catalogue raisonné of a portraitist: do you arrange the works in chronological order, or in alphabetical order of sitter? In some contexts it is assumed that only the former is a “proper” catalogue, but that is a peculiarly unhelpful approach for certain artists. (No one criticises Mannings’s Reynolds or Smart’s Ramsay for adopting an order that allows users to find the work that interests them.) With many portraitists there are enough dated examples, and a continuous evolution of technique that allows one to place the undated items in chronological order with a reasonable consensus among other experts (although one ends up with a vast number of œuvres mentionnées): Perronneau and Liotard come to mind among La Tour’s rivals. With others – say Rosalba – the alphabetical approach is also of limited value as identifiable portraits form such a small proportion of the œuvre (Sani remains of manageable length only by omitting versions, copies and historical records of lost works – all of which I regard as necessary components of a catalogue raisonné).

Of course tech-savvy readers will immediately point out that the answer is a proper database that users can order at the touch of a button – alphabetically by sitter, chronologically by date of work, thematically by subject – but it’s never quite that simple. In fact when I first put the Dictionary online ten years ago I spent a great deal of time trying to do this before abandoning the project. Nor have I really been convinced by any of the catalogues put up in structured form since: each requires patience to learn how to interrogate, and the interfaces simply seem clunkier and more hostile than book pages (whether printed on paper or viewed on screen). Art history depends on nuanced lists and hierarchies that we are all familiar with on the page; successful IT projects require such relationships to be reduced to the smallest number of moving parts, and afterthoughts result in huge cost overruns. If the software isn’t available off the shelf, it’s a brave (or wealthy) person who commissions what is certain to be a white elephant.

But with La Tour only a hundred and fifty or so works can be objectively dated, and even an art historian with supreme gifts will be unable to arrange the whole catalogue chronologically in a manner compatible with the practical requirements of users. It’s worth remembering too that while John Russell died 23 years younger than La Tour, his work was spread evenly over about 40 years; of La Tour, nothing is known before about 1735, and very little after 1770. The many préparations don’t even include enough costume details to assist in dating. So the structure developed by B&W 90 years ago probably remains the better approach – supplemented by a chronological discussion of specific key works, and underpinned by the chronological table of documents which I’ve reissued at vastly increased length and with careful annotation throughout. (For the time being I’ve retained the use of two typefaces – Times for the original table in B&W, and Garamond for my additions – so you can see how I’ve doubled the quantity of information which is at the heart of La Tour research.)

Here then is a sketch of my work-in-progress on Maurice-Quentin de La Tour:

One of the issues I still grapple with is how best to present the information I have about sitters. Clearly major pastels merit the extended treatment I have given in the separate essays noted above, and those can be accessed through hyperlinks. Some famous sitters have well-known biographies which have almost nothing to do with La Tour or their portrait: is there any point in duplicating material easily accessible elsewhere?  With others where there is little to say, a simple description of dates and quality sits happily in the entry (although I’m not sure how many people realize that more biographical material and sources for many sitters can be found in my iconographical genealogies). But for a great many entries one wants something in between – say 500-1000 words – enough to break the flow of the Dictionary layout, and to strain the patience of readers if buried in hyperlinked documents. Perhaps readers have thoughts about this.

There is as you will see rather a lot of material here already – probably too much for any publisher to wish to print it on paper (do let me know if I’m wrong!). But by having it out there already, you can benefit from it – and I can benefit from any errors or omissions you see. I’m sure there are many – just as I’ve been surprised by how many have hitherto passed undetected.

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