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Lot 224: JEAN-SIMON BERTHÉLEMY LAON 1743 - 1811 PARIS
Furniture, Old Master Paintings and Works of Art From the Castle of Catagneto Po, near Turin, and from other French Residences
March 21, 2007
London, United Kingdom
PSYCHE CONTEMPLATING THE SLEEPING CUPID
100.5 by 167 cm.; 39 1/2 by 65 3/4 in.
oil on canvas, oval
Commissioned by Jean-Gabriel Legendre for the Intendance de Champagne à Châlons sur Marne in 1765;
Acquired by Lanoue after the sale of the Intendance building on 25-28 August 1794;
With Maurice Ségoura, Paris, from whom acquired.
J. Berland, L'hôtel de l'Intendance de Champagne, aujourd'hui préfecture de la Marne, Châlons sur Marne 1928, pp. 49, 52, 84, 170 and 172;
T. Gaehtgens, "Deux tableaux de Vien récemment acquis par les musées de Brest et de Lille", in Revue du Louvre, 1976, p. 377, reproduced (as anonymous);
N. Volle, Jean-Simon Berthélemy, Paris 1979, p. 71, cat. no. 10, reproduced fig. 7 (as location unknown).
Having trained in Noel Hallé's studio, Jean-Simon Berthélemy made his reputation in the 1760s; a decade during which he reached second place in the Grand Prix of the Académie Royale (1763) and subsequently won first prize (1767). It was also around this time that Berthélemy embarked on an important (albeit provincial) commission - obtained through the help of his father, the sculptor Jean-Joseph Berthélemy - to produce seventeen paintings in the manner of Boucher for the Intendance de Champagne à Châlons sur Marne. The artist only completed six overdoors (of which this is one) and delegated the rest of the commission to a fellow pupil at the Académie. The other five overdoors - four of which represent The Seasons and the fifth Time and Love - are all of similar dimensions (91 by 162 cm.) and are today in the Grand Salon de la Préfecture de Châlons sur Marne (see Volle, under Literature, cat. nos. 5-9). The present painting is specifically recorded in a contract drawn up between Berthélemy and the architect Jean-Gabriel Legendre on 14 February 1765: "un tableau dans le fond de la niche... en ovale représentant la curiosité de Psyché et l'Amour endormi. 100 livres". In his description of the paintings at the Intendance compiled in 1795, Poterlet judged the Psyche contemplating the sleeping Cupid as the best of all the overdoors. This painting was not identified with Berthélemy's recorded work until Volle's monograph of 1979, in which it was rightfully re-attributed to the artist.