At Christie’s | Paintings and Drawings from the Marcille Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 9, 2021

Lot 7: Jean-Siméon Chardin, La Fontaine (Water Urn), detail, ca. 1730s, oil on canvas, 50 × 43 cm (estimate €5–8million).

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for the auction:

De Chardin à Prud’hon, Tableaux et Dessins Provenant des Collections Marcille, Sale 20722
Christie’s Paris, 22 November 2021

Christie’s France—in collaboration with the auction house Tajan—presents an important group of paintings and drawings from the Marcille Collection, one of the most far-sighted collections of 18-century French art assembled in the 19th century. Initiated by François Marcille (1790–1856), and continued by his two sons Camille (1816–1875) and Eudoxe (1814–1890), the collection came to include some 4,600 paintings and other works. Although the collection was dispersed by inheritance within the family, collectors will now be able to acquire 27 works, including several masterpieces from major artists of the 18th and early 19th centuries, artists such as Jean-Siméon Chardin, Maurice-Quentin de la Tour, Théodore Gericault, Charles Coypel, and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. The sale is estimated at between €5.7 million and €9.1 million.

Pierre Etienne, Director of the Department of Old Master Paintings: “There are names of collectors that are true stamps, labels of quality. The name Marcille evokes the excellence of the French 18th century, and even more vigorously for Chardin, La Tour, and Prud’hon.”

The Goncourts said of Camille Marcille that one should “study Chardin [at his home] to do full justice to the painter.” In 1979, at the time of the monographic exhibition of Chardin at the Grand Palais, the Marcille family loaned 22 of his paintings, including a superb genre scene representing a Woman at the Water Urn (estimate €5,000,000–8,000,000)—a work that entered the Marcille collection in 1848 and contributed to the rediscovery of Chardin in the 19th century through its inclusion in the first French exhibition devoted to the artist in 1860. Théophile Gautier was impressed by this very original work and wrote that it showed “what no one had ever talked about.” Chardin, not included in the canon of his time, preferred poetic scenes of everyday life to the more frivolous portraits of the century and came to be described as the ‘French Vermeer’. Chardin’s genre scenes were the most sought after and extremely rare on the market. Fontaine is one of the very first genre scenes in which Chardin fully reveals himself. Several museums have versions of the painting, including the first one, (on panel) from the Salon of 1737, at Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum and a version at the Toledo Museum of Art. The one from the Marcille Collection is the last in private hands and has not appeared on the market since 1848.

Lot 8: Jean-Siméon Chardin, L’hiver, à l’imitation de bas-relief d’après Edmé Bouchardon, 1776, oil on canvas, 55 × 88 cm (€80,000–120,000)

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Another painting by Chardin, Winter, in Imitation of Bas-relief after Edmé Bouchardon (estimate €80,000–120,000), will also be part of the sale. It attests to the Marcille family’s passion for the painter as well as to Chardin’s mastery of trompe l’oeil. The sale also features works acquired by Camille and Eudoxe Marcille—both of whom worked as curators, of the Chartres and Orléans museums respectively—in particular, an animated landscape by Hubert Robert (Lot 4: Waterfall Landscape with a Bridge, estimate €30,000–50,000) and two portraits by Nattier’s brilliant pupil, Louis Tocqué.

A fine group of ten sheets by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon is included in the drawings section of the sale. The Marcilles had a particular passion for this neoclassical artist who gave drawing a prominent place in his work, typically combining black and white chalk on blue-grey paper. The ensemble illustrates the diversity and iconographic richness of the artist’s drawings. Among the highlights are portraits, including that of Baroness Alexandre de Talleyrand at the Age of Seven (estimate €25,000–35,000) and a Head of Napoleon in a Medallion, which was later engraved by Alexandre Tardieu (€20,000–30,000). Finally, Prud’hon’s commitment to the Empire is reflected in the collection by a Design for the Cradle of Roi de Rome (estimate €25,000–35,000), later created by Philippe Thomire and Odiot and now in the Schatzkammer in Vienna, along with a Design for a Chair for Empress Marie-Louise (estimate €12,000–18,000).


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