- Corneille de Lyon
- Portrait of a lady, said to be Marie de Batarny, half length, wearing black with white sleeves and a black bonnet
- oil on panel, in a tabernacle frame
- 19.2 x 14.7cm
The Hon. Mr. Irby, Florence, 1836 (his collector's label affixed to the reverse, no. 84), as by Hans Holbein;
Thence by descent to George Irby, 6th Baron Boston (1860-1941), Hedsor Lodge, Buckinghamshire;
Marcus Kappel, Berlin, by 1910;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 23 March 1973, lot 66, for £11,000;
Bequeathed by Dr. Rau to the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF.
W.C. Agee, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A guide to the Collection, Houston 1981, p. 46, reproduced (the set of three);
A. Dubois de Groër, Corneille de la Haye dit Corneille de Lyon, Paris 1996, pp. 223-224, cat. no. 142, reproduced.
The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar, who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's.
UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE
The panel is supported with horizontal cradling bars which are set within a wooden support. This is ensuring a sound and secure structural support.
The paint surface has an even varnish layer.
Inspection under ultra-violet light shows the varnish layers to have discoloured and there would appear to be only small retouchings which are predominantly in the background, particularly in the upper left and right and beside the right vertical framing edge. There may be some small retouchings on the sitter's right sleeve. There are small retouchings in the dark pigments just above the sitter's hands and on her left shoulder.
There may be other retouchings beneath the old varnish layers which are not identifiable under ultra-violet light.
The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition and while cleaning could be considered, no further work is required for reasons of conservation.
"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."
This was one of a group of four portraits by Corneille de Lyon that were in the collection of Marcus Kappel in Berlin in 1910. The other three were portraits of René de Batarnay, Count of Bouchage, and his wife Isabelle of Savoy and his daughter Marie, later the wife of Guillaume II, Vicomte de Joyeuse. The portrait of René de Batarnay is known in two versions; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.1
The identity of the sitter is confirmed by its likeness to an anonymous chalk drawing of the same sitter today in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The portraits of his presumed wife and daughter are also in Houston, and a second version of the latter's likeness is also to be found in the Musée Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp.2
It is unclear why the present portrait has been identified as Marie de Batarnay; the likeness does not compare with the more rounded features in the Antwerp and Houston panels, and the dimensions are also quite different, so it is unlikely to have originally come from the same set. The costumes of the other Batarnay portraits all date to around 1535-40, while as Dubois de Groer notes, that of this portrait dates to circa
Marcus Kappel (1839-191) was a wealthy German banker and businessman and a considerable collector and patron of the arts. Having made his fortune in the grain trade, he then built his collection with the advice of Wilhelm von Bode, concentrating on Dutch and Flemish 17th century works and the work of the 19th century painter Adolph Menzel. The collection was displayed in his house 'Oberlichtsaal' in the Tiergartenstrasse in Berlin, where it was hung by Von Bode himself along the lines of the new Berlin Museum. The paintings numbered works by or attributed to Pieter Claesz., Willem Claesz. Heda, Gerrit Dou, Adriaen van Ostade, Jan Steen (three examples) and Simon de Vlieger, including, for example, Gabriel Metsu's Girl holding an apple of 1661-3 (Metropolitan Museum, New York) and Rubens' oil sketch of The Family of Rubens (Philadelphia, John G. Johnson Collection).
1. Dubois de Groër, op. cit., 1996, pp. 181-182, cat. nos. 80 and 80A, reproduced. The New York panel measures 16.5 x 14.5 cm., and that in Houston 17.8 x 14.4 cm.
2. Idem.,pp. 140-141, cat. nos. 140, 141 and 141A, reproduced. The two Houston panels measure 16.7 x 13.8 cm. and 16.7 x 13.7 cm. respectively, and that in Antwerp 16.5 x 13.9 cm. The author notes however that the likeness of the Comtesse does not fit well with a portrait drawing supposedly of the same sitter in the Hermitage (cf. L. Dimier, Histoire de la peinture de portrait en France au XVI siècle, Paris 1924-26, vol. III, p. 62, no. 42).