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    Description

    William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
    Tête d'Italienne avec une couronne de laurier (Head of an Italian girl with a laurel wreath), 1872
    Oil on canvas
    19 x 15-1/4 inches (48.3 x 38.7 cm)
    Signed and dated in lower left background: W Bouguereau / 1872

    PROVENANCE:
    The artist;
    Goupil Opéra, Paris, July 1, 1872 (stockbook no. 6787);
    M. Jesup, September 6, 1872;
    Mrs. Theodore Cuyler, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1877;
    Philip Suval Fine Arts, New York;
    Private collection, California.

    EXHIBITED:
    Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, "Choice Paintings Loaned from Private Galleries of Philadelphia, and Hans Makart's Great Picture of Venice Paying Homage to Caterina Cornaro," January 1877, as Petrarch's Laura, lent by Mrs. Theodore Cuyler.

    LITERATURE:
    Bouguereau's accounts, as Jeune Italienne à la courrone (tête);
    Goupil's stockbooks, no. 6787, as Jeune Muse;
    Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Choice Paintings Loaned from Private Galleries of Philadelphia, and Hans Makart's Great Picture of Venice Paying Homage to Caterina Cornaro, exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia, 1877, as Petrarch's Laura, no. 210;
    C. Vendryès, William Bouguereau, Paris, 1885, p. 47, as Tête d'Italienne avec une couronne de laurier;
    M. Vachon, William Bouguereau, Paris, 1900, p. 151, as Tête d'Italienne;
    M. Walker, William Bouguereau - A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings, New York, 1991, p. 68;
    D. Bartoli and F. Ross, William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné of His Painted Works, Vol. II, New York, 2010, pp. 144-45, no. 1872/12, illustrated.

    We wish to thank Frederick Ross for confirming the authenticity of this painting.

    Philadelphia collectors Theodore and Mary Elizabeth DeWitt Cuyler acquired this captivating painting by William Bouguereau as a contemporary work of art, less than five years after it was painted. They displayed it in their fashionable home at 1826 Rittenhouse Square. Sadly, however, Theodore Cuyler (1819-1876), a profoundly gifted, distinguished, and, as it turned out, exceedingly overworked solicitor for the Pennsylvania Railroad, died suddenly at the age of 56 in April 1876, leaving the Philadelphia legal and cultural community in a state of shock. Innumerable memorial tributes poured forth from the Philadelphia bar, from the railroads, and from the cultural institutions Cuyler ardently supported. One writer made special note of his passion for art in his eulogy: "To art he was deeply devoted. His home was embellished with innumerable proofs of his exquisite taste, and he was one of the most zealous friends of the Academy of Fine Arts of Philadelphia. He is the author of the supplement to its old charter, which has infused such strong vitality into its modern operations, and, on the evening preceding his death, he had just commenced preparing the address he had been chosen to deliver at the time of the formal opening of its splendid new building on Broad street, on the twenty-second of April." (Memorials of Theodore Cuyler, Philadelphia, 1879, p. 189)

    A year following her husband's death, Mrs. Cuyler lent this Bouguereau, together with other prize paintings from her collection, to a special exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The catalogue of that exhibition provides an important record of the Cuylers' holdings, as well affording a contextualization of this bust-length Tête d'Italienne, which the Cuylers titled Petrarch's Laura, among works by painters such as John Vanderlyn and Jean-Louis Hamon.




    Condition Report*: The un-lined canvas has scattered craquelure commensurate with age. The center stretcher bar has left a faint line of craquelure running across the girl’s face through her nose. In the upper left, there is a ¼ in. slight perforation, with corresponding in-paint, that does not show through on the back in the canvas. Visible under UV light are several very small marks of in-painting (two on the girl’s lower right cheek, one on her forehead, and another in her hair). The varnish makes it difficult to confirm possible older restoration in the hair, crown, and lower right side of the girl’s face. The painting was cleaned and re-varnished in 2020.
    *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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2020
    29th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,861

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