Description: signed JL Hamon (lower left)
oil on canvas
Dimensions: 29 by 23 1/2 in.
74 by 60 cm.
Exhibited: Paris, Salon, 1861
Literature: Livret du Salon, Paris, 1861
Bellier & Auvray, Dictionnaire Général des Artistes de l'Ecole Française, Paris, 1882, vol. I, p. 740
Eugène Hoffman, Jean-Louis Hamon, Peintre (1821-1874), Paris, 1903, p. 92
Provenance: Private Collection, France
Notes: Although originally destined for the priesthood, Hamon traveled to Paris and with Ingres' encouragement, fully embraced the arts. He entered the studio of Paul Delaroche in 1839, which artist Charles Gleyre managed after Delaroche's death. In 1848 Gleyre urged Hamon to become a designer for the Sèvres porcelain factory, an occupation of many artists at the time, most notably, Constant Troyon. At Sèvres, Hamon developed his precise, delicate, and ethereal style, as exemplified in the present lot. Along with Gérôme and Picou, Hamon was associated with the Neo-Grèc or Pompeiian movement in France, which sought to revive ancient Greek motifs in painting.
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According to Eugène Hoffman's 1903 monograph on the artist, in 1858 Hamon composed three preparatory drawings to illustrate French writer, poet and journalist Joseph Mery's poem Vierges de Lesbos (The Virgins of Lesbos). This deluxe publication had an exclusive print run of only three hundred. The present oil developed from the third theme of these drawings, wherein two classically clad maidens gracefully float intertwined in space, as a small impish eros holds their hair as reins and guides their fluid movement.
In 1868, Hamon executed a smaller painted version of this work which Philadelphia art collector Henry Gibson bequeathed to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine arts in 1896, and which Sotheby's New York sold on October 29, 2002, as la Nuit (see lot 25 in sale 7834).