Description: pastel on paper
Dimensions: 21 3/8 by 16 1/2 in.; 55 by 43 cm.
Medium: pastel on paper
Condition Report: The following condition report was provided by Marjorie Shelley, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The portrait is in very good condition. The colors are vibrant and show no evidence of fading or color alteration. Extremely minor surface dirt is present on the tip of the nose and at the hairline above the forehead. The highlight at the right side of the mouth reads well, however, on close inspection the hardness of the left edge suggests that it may be a correction. Minor horizontal scratches are present at the bottom of the cravat and there is slight rubbing along the lower edge of the garment. Slightly discernible marks from rubbing or fingers are present in the dark brown background at the upper right. The portrait is set within a fictive oval on a rectangular sheet of paper and each of the four spandrels is in compromised condition. Pastel appears to have been initially applied to each corner, however these sites have been deeply abraded and subsequently inpainted in watercolor and dark pastel over the abrasions. Based on the configuration of the abrasions it appears that they occurred as a result of an attempt to alter or pare down the paper at these sites; perhaps to fit into an oval frame. (The frame was not seen by this conservator.) Both the lower right and lower left margins have seen abraded by contact with the frame rabbet. The primary support is made of toned laid paper. Its color is obscured by the overall covering of pastel. The edges of the sheet are very brittle and worn and have sustained a few small tears (at the center of the right edge in the shape of a triangle; a tear at the upper right edge in the spandrel; a loss at the upper left corner), The support has been mounted around its edges on the verso to off-white paper, which appears to have been part of the original mounting of the pastel as double paper layers were commonly found in pastels of this era. The sheet of millboard which is presently behind the composition is not original to it, as this mounting format was not used in the eighteenth century and the millboard is slightly smaller than the work of art. The composition is hinged along its lower edge to the lower edge of the millboard. This is precarious as the support could slump downward in its frame and the sheet could be easily torn. Recommendations The compromised condition of the spandrels cannot be successfully conserved, thus overmatting the corners and mounting the composition an oval frame is a reasonable solution to this problem. It is recommended that the white backing paper to which the primary support is adhered remain in place to provide a means of support. The tears along the edges should be repaired; the triangular tear on the right will require a small amount of inpainting. The surface dirt on the face is minor. It is not recommended that it be removed as this could damage the underlying powdery pastel. The composition should be entirely removed from the millboard backing, and hinged around the edges to a 100% ragboard support; at the least it should be hinged at the top to ragboard. Ragboard should be used as a barrier between the composition and the frame if the spandrels are covered. Ultraviolet filtering laminated glass is recommended for framing . Reduced light levels are necessary to preserve the colors and prevent embrittlement of the paper. Environmental levels should be maintained at 68-72F temperature and 50% relative humidity. Any transport should be carried out with the work of art in a horizontal face-up position and all vibrations should be avoided.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."
Exhibited: Paris, Salle Bonne-Nouvelle,
L'Exposition des Artistes, 1847 (as cited in the 1853 auction catalogue).
Literature: J. Martin and C. Masson, "Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de Jean-Baptiste Greuze," in C. Mauclair,
Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Paris 1906, p. 71, no. 1146 (as Greuze);
N. Jeffares, "Jean-Baptiste Greuze",
Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, London, 2006; online edition [http://www.pastellists.com/articles/greuze.pdf], update 27 February 2018, cat. no. J.361.4 (as a copy after Greuze).
Provenance: With Otto Mündler (1811-1870) and Emmanuel Sano (d. 1878), Paris (as Jean-Baptiste Greuze);
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Their sale, Paris, Bonnefons de Lavialle, March 14, 1853, lot 77 (
Portrait de l'artiste, pastel) for 790 francs (as Greuze);
With Cornette de Saint-Cyr, Paris, by April 1973;
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 31 January 2013, lot 80 (as Greuze).