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Lot 89: *MARTIN DROLLING (1752-1817)

Property of a Private Collector Sold Without Reserve; Revolution in Art

by Sotheby's

January 24, 2002

New York, NY, USA

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Description: signed and dated lower right Drölling pt/ 1806 oil on canvas Specializing in portraiture (see lots 87 and 90) and genre painting, Drölling, like Boilly, represented an important trend of French nineteenth century art that developed concurrently with Davidian neoclassicism. His study of the seventeenth-century Dutch masters is evident in his carefully articulated style and the domestic genre subjects he often chose to depict. Between 1793 and 1817, he actively exhibited at the Salon, and his compositions were popularized by engravers such as Noel, Langlumé, Leroy and Debucourt. The present picture, exhibited at the Salon of 1806, is a wonderful example of the influence of Greuze's moralizing genre scenes. The prototype of such scenes exalting familial virtues was introduced to the Salon of 1755 by Greuze with his painting, A Father Reading the Bible to his Family and was followed later by, The Father's Curse : The Ungrateful Son and The Punished Son, dated circa 1777-1778 now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. These masterpieces won Greuze particular distinction as a genre painter and Drölling was clearly influenced by these models. The depiction of a family gathered around the father's bed in an interior recalls the story composition of The Prodigal Son, however the present scene does not have the psychological drama or the emphasis on tragedy. It is quite possible that the subject refers to a contemporary event; 1806 was the year of the Battle of Iena, and the letter bringing good news.

Provenance: Purchased by the family of the present owner prior to 1850 and thence by descent in the family

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