Description

    LEON JEAN BASILE PERRAULT (French, 1832-1908)
    A Reading Lesson
    Oil on panel
    18-1/2 x 15 inches (47.0 x 38.1 cm)
    Signed lower left: L. Perrault

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, New York.

    A master painter in the same vein as his teachers, François-Édouard Picot and William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Leon Jean Basile Perrault produced the full range of 19th-century academic subjects: religious, allegorical, and historical scenes and, his true passions, portraiture and genre painting. His impoverished childhood in Poitiers motivated him to pursue an art career in order to change his fortunes; at age nineteen, he won a regional drawing competition, which helped him secure a letter of introduction to Picot's studio in Paris. Here, and later at the École des Beaux-Arts with Bouguereau, Perrault sharpened his academic skills, exhibiting at the Paris Salon religious works such as Christ au tombeau and elaborate battle scenes, notably Le mobilisé. Indeed, his acceptance as an accomplished military painter led to several collaborations with the studio of Horace Vernet during the 1860s.

    However, it was his genre paintings of women and children that Perrault infused with particular integrity and honesty and which repeatedly impressed Salon critics. Departing from Bouguereau's sentimental, doe-eyed peasants, Perrault's subjects convey more complex emotions, born out of his own experience as a struggling youth: inner strength, maturity, hope, and responsibility to family. Perrault first exhibited these "symbolic" genre paintings at the Salon of 1864, and they became a staple of his oeuvre. Exceptionally crafted paintings, A Reading Lesson and L'amour fraternal both underscore the theme of an older child protecting or instructing a younger child, their emotional closeness conveyed through closely positioned heads and hands. Perrault here expertly captures individual expressions, whether of patience or frustration, as in A Reading Lesson, or of compassion or exhaustion, as in L'amour fraternal.

    Knighted a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1887, Perrault received medals at the 1889 and 1900 Expositions Universelles. His paintings can be viewed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux; Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers; Kunstmuseum, Stuttgart; and Brooklyn Museum, among other notable institutions.



    Estimate: $50,000 - $70,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Scattered minor frame abrasions on the left edge; otherwise in very good condition; not examined under black light. Framed Dimensions 29.5 X 26 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 Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    15th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,620

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