Exceptional Chardin up for auction
Remained for a century and a half with the descendants of a great collector, Eudoxe Marcille, this Basket of wild strawberries by Jean Siméon Chardin, well known to lovers of old painting, will be auctioned on March 23 in Paris at Artcurial. Estimate: from 12 M€ to 15 M€. Nice media stunt for Artcurial and the Turquin cabinet: on January 20, in front of an audience of journalists, Matthieu Fournier, Associate Director of the auction house, and expert Éric Turquin unveiled an icon of 18th-century French painting estimated between €12m and €15m. After a few minutes of suspense, they lifted the green velvet fabric that concealed Le Panier de fraises des bois (circa 1760-1761) by Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779). A few hours later, the painting left to be presented in New York. But it will return to Paris in a few days, to be auctioned at Artcurial on March 23. A summit of still life The painting is not a discovery. Its authenticity is indisputable, and its pedigree known, which makes Éric Turquin, whose attribution to Caravaggio of a painting discovered in an attic had caused much ink to flow, say that it is this time an easy affair"… The Basket of Wild Strawberries was exhibited by Chardin at the Salon of 1761, as evidenced by a drawing by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, a brilliant chronicler of official salons. We then find it with a great collector of the 19th century, Eudoxe Marcille, who had inherited part of the collection from his father François Marcille, notably consisting of thirty paintings by Chardin. The work has since remained with his descendants, which explains its almost perfect state of preservation (it just shows an old repair at the bottom right and would need cleaning, which would restore the whiteness of the carnations). In addition, the canvas, which has been lent at numerous exhibitions, appears on the cover of the catalog of the first major Chardin exhibition in 1979, organized by Pierre Rosenberg. Rosenberg is considered by specialists as a pinnacle of 18th century French still life, even as "an ambassador of the French spirit ". Matthieu Fournier and Éric Turquin unveiling the painting to the press. ©Agathe Hakoun Modern before its time Chardin made it at the summit of his career, around 1760-61, when he broke away from the model of the Flemish masters to invent a new type of still life. Matthieu Fournier says the Wild Strawberry Basket is "overwhelmingly harmonious and simple. What exactly do we see there? A horizontal line: the table, a triangle: the strawberry pyramid, a cylinder: the glass with incredible red reflections. Spheres: peach and cherries. "And the diagonal of the carnation stems, which breaks up what would otherwise have been monotonous," emphasizes Stéphane Pinta, expert at Cabinet Turquin. This modernity did not fail to inspire artists such as Fantin-Latour, Cézanne, Monet, or Morandi in the 20th century. Jean Siméon Chardin, The Basket of Wild Strawberries, oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm ©Artcurial Diderot remains the one who speaks best of Chardin's still lifes, in particular of his very particular technique, described in 1767: "We don't understand anything about this magic. They are thick layers of color applied on top of each other and whose effect transpires from below to above. Come closer, everything blurs, flattens and disappears; move away, everything is recreated and reproduced". And, almost a century later, the Goncourt brothers added: "step back a little, the flowers rise from the canvas, everything comes together and blossoms. And that is the miracle of the things that Chardin paints". According to expert Éric Turquin, a painting by Chardin can be viewed from a few meters away. Museum or collector? Its quality, provenance, condition, and "modernity" put forward by the experts are all assets for the canvas. Since French museums have many masterpieces by Chardin (a quarter of his still lifes are in the Louvre), Le Panier de fraises des bois will most certainly receive its export certificate. Under these conditions, who could bid on March 23? "Three years ago, it is certain that foreign museums would have joined the ranks," says Éric Turquin. But in the United States, many museums do not have the funds due to the drop in ticket and merchandise sales caused by the current health crisis. Some are on the verge of bankruptcy and are making layoffs. Therefore, the most likely hypothesis would be to purchase the painting by a collector, why not American, who could then offer it or bequeath it to a museum. On the other hand, there is a lot of money from individuals, and we have been witnessing a revival of the market for old paintings in recent years". seen in Connaissance des Arts . Celine Lefranc
video; Works by Chardin video: Still Lifes by Chardin
Remained for a century and a half with the descendants of a great collector, Eudoxe Marcille, this Basket of wild strawberries by Jean...