Christie's to offer Old Master paintings and drawings from the Marcille Collection

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Christie's to offer Old Master paintings and drawings from the Marcille Collection
Jean-Siméon Chardin, Woman at the fountain. Estimate: 5,000,000-8,000,000€. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

PARIS.- Christie's France presents, in collaboration with the auction house Tajan, an important group of 27 paintings and drawings from the Marcille Collection, certainly one of the most far-sighted collectors of 19th century collectors of 18th century art in France, initiated by François Marcille, and continued by his two sons, Camille and Eudoxe. Over a period of thirty-five years, François Marcille made a large number of acquisitions, resulting in an exceptional collection of 4,600 paintings and other works. Although the entire collection was dispersed by inheritance in the family, collectors will now be able to acquire 27 works, including several masterpieces, from major artists of the 18th and early 19th centuries: Jean-Siméon Chardin, Maurice-Quentin de la Tour, Théodore Gericault, Charles Coypel, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, etc. The collection is estimated at between €5.7 million and €9.1 million.

Pierre Etienne, Director of the Department of Old Master Paintings: ‘There are names of collectors that are true stamps, labels of quality. The name Marcille evokes the excellence of the French 18th century, and even more vigorously for Chardin, La Tour and Prud'hon.’

The Goncourts said of Camille Marcille that one should ‘study Chardin [at his home] to do full justice to the painter.’ In 1979, at the time of the monographic exhibition of Chardin at the Grand Palais, the Marcille family loaned 22 of the painter's paintings, including our superb genre scene representing a Woman at the fountain (€5,000,000-8,000,000). A true 18th century masterpiece, this painting entered their collection in 1848 and contributed to the rediscovery of Chardin in the 19th century at the first exhibition devoted to the artist in France in 1860. Théophile Gautier was impressed by this very original work and wrote that it showed ‘what no one had ever talked about’. Chardin, not included in the canon of his time, preferred poetic scenes of everyday life to the more frivolous portraits of the century. Described as the French Vermeer of the 19th century, his genre scenes were the most sought after and extremely rare on the market. Woman fetching water is one of the very first genre scenes in which Chardin fully reveals himself. Famous, the composition is taken up by the master, as usual. Several museums in the world have a version, including the first one, from the Salon of 1737, on panel in Stockholm and the Toledo Museum of Art. The version we are presenting here, which remained in the Marcille collection up until now and is the last in private hands, has never appeared on the market since 1848.

Another painting by Chardin will be part of this sale, Still-life with a monochrome relief (Winter), (€80,000-120,000). It is another testimony of the Marcille family's passion for the painter as well as another facet of the artist: the trompe l'oeil. Passionate about the 18th century, Camille and Eudoxe Marcille, both curators of the Chartres and Orléans museums respectively, will be adding to their personal collection of the great painters of the period with, in particular, an animated landscape by Hubert Robert (Landscape with a small bridge, estimated at €30,000-50,000) as well as two portraits by Nattier's brilliant pupil, Louis Tocqué.

In the drawings section of the sale, a very fine group of ten sheets by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon will also be included in this sale. The Marcilles had a particular passion for this Neoclassical artist who gave drawing a prominent place in his work, typically combining black and white chalk on blue-grey paper. The ensemble illustrates the diversity and iconographic richness of the artist's drawings. Among the highlights are portraits, including that of Baroness Alexandre de Talleyrand at the age of seven (€25,000-35,000) and a Head of Napoleon in a medallion, which was later engraved by Alexandre Tardieu (€20,000-30,000). Finally, Prud'hon's commitment to the Empire is reflected in the collection by the Design for the cradle of Roi de Rome estimated at €25,000-35,000, later created by Philippe Thomire and Odiot, now in the Schatzkammer in Vienna, and a Design for a chair for Empress Marie-Louise (€12,000-18,000).

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