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French painters in the spotlight at sales this week

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10/6/24 - Art market - Paris - After the strawberries, the melon. A masterpiece by Jean Siméon Chardin will come up for auction at Christie’s in Paris on 12 June (ill. 1). A mature painting produced in 1760, it testifies to the artist’s return to still life after devoting himself more to the genre scenes that made him such a success. The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth could be delighted with this work, which it had regretted not obtaining Basket of Wild Strawberries sold by Artcurial on 23 March 2022 (see the news item on 20/1/22) and finally acquired by the Louvre (see the news item on 7/11/23). Christie’s also auctioned Chardin’s The Fountain in 2021, one of his first genre paintings, produced in 1733.


1. Jean-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779)
The Cut Melon, 1760
Oil on canvas - 57 x 51.5 cm
Photo: Christie’s
Christie’s Paris sale, 12 April 2024
See the image in its page

The Cut Melon was matched by the Jar of Apricots now in The Art Gallery of Ontario (ill. 2). Both works were probably made for Jacques Roëttiers de La Tour, the king’s goldsmith. One painted in 1760 and the other in 1758, they mark the artist’s return to still life after having devoted himself more to the genre scenes that had made him so successful. They were both exhibited at the Salon of 1761 on either side of the Basket of Wild Strawberries. A drawing by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin bears witness to this exhibition, scribbled in the Salon booklet.
On the death of Roëttiers in 1784, the paintings were bought by Guillaume-Jean Constantin, art dealer and curator of Empress Josephine’s collection at Malmaison. They then passed through the Marcille collection, which also included the Basket of Wild Strawberries and The Fountain. François-Martial Marcille assembled the most important group of paintings by Chardin, some of which later passed into the hands of his two sons, Eudoxe and Camille, who were respectively director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans and curator of the…

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