Description

    ADOLPHE JOSEPH THOMAS MONTICELLI (French, 1824-1886)
    Les dames de la Reine, circa 1865
    Oil on canvas
    25-1/2 x 21 inches (64.8 x 53.3 cm)
    Signed lower right: Monticelli

    PROVENANCE:
    Doyle, New York, European Paintings & Sculpture, November 2, 1998, lot 30.

    EXHIBITED:
    Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, William Merritt Chase in the Company of Friends, May 13, 1979-July 29, 1979 (label verso).

    This lot is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Dr. Aaron Sheon, who has graciously provided the following description of the painting:

    The painting is an important and quite rare image from his career in Paris, around 1865. I am sure the title goes back to that period of the Second Empire, when Monticelli and his dealer in Montmartre, Delarebeyrette, sold works connected to the new Empress of Napoleon III, Eugenie. Monticelli was about 40 years old and had steady sales of Rococo inspired paintings of women in costumes sitting in parks, often with fountains or walls. There is usually not narrative. The figures seem to live in moments of pleasure and beauty, often in courtship with handsome costumed suitors.

    In my book and exhibition catalogue, Monticelli, His Friends, His Influence, Pittsburgh, 1978-9, I wrote extensively about the 1860s when Monticelli imagined life at the Court of the Second Empire, as a renewed Fête Galante moment in French history. Monticelli may have sold works to the Empress or to members of the court. One photograph taken in the studio of Léon Chave, a boyhood friend of Monticelli, shows a large imaginary picture of Monticelli walking with the Empress in a garden. My book also contains figures 34-37, all of which reflect the fête galante subjects and the admiration of the court of the Empress. One Paris art gallery, Jane Roberts Fine Arts, recently discovered a painting by Monticelli showing the Empress at her Château of Saint-Cloud, which may have been done to sell to the Empress.

    During this period around 1865, Monticelli often painted light reflecting from sun-lit objects. In the painting Les dames de la Reine, the garments of the woman on the left seem to be floating free of the woman and being highlighted on the surface. The column between the two women on the right also is apparently exaggeratedly bright. Monticelli seemed to be aware of how Monet in the early and mid-1860s showed bright sky reflections on the clothes of figures. I am thinking of Monet's Women in the Garden and his fragment of Déjeuner sur l'herbe, showing a man with a strong blue reflection on his dark suit.

    The brushwork, subject, faces, costumes and pose leave no doubt that this is one of Monticelli's works from the 1860s, possibly about 1865. The work may be the most interesting of the fête galante and Empress Eugenie context works. I consider this work one of the most important of Monticelli's early Paris period in the 1860s.







    Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Re-lined canvas; scattered light frame abrasions on the extreme edges; otherwise in very good condition; not examined under black light. Framed Dimensions 32 X 27.75 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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