95
95

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jehan Georges Vibert
FRENCH
LE RETOUR DES RELIQUES
Estimation
70 000100 000
Lot. Vendu 100,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
95

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jehan Georges Vibert
FRENCH
LE RETOUR DES RELIQUES
Estimation
70 000100 000
Lot. Vendu 100,000 USD (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Art

|
New York

Jehan Georges Vibert
1840 - 1902
FRENCH
LE RETOUR DES RELIQUES
signed J. G. Vibert (lower right)
watercolor and gouache on paper
18 7/8 by 40 in.
47.9 by 101.6 cm
Lire le rapport d'état Lire le rapport d'état

Provenance

The artist's estate, sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 25-26, 1902, lot 50
Mr. Kipling (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collector, Los Angeles (and sold: Christie's, New York, October 29, 1986, lot 233, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale

Exposition

Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1900, no. 1877
Cincinnati, Taft Museum; Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art; Elmira, New York, Arnot Art Museum, Cavaliers and Cardinals, Nineteenth Century French Ancedotal Paintings, June 25, 1992-January 17, 1993, no. 122 (Washington, D.C. and New York only)

Bibliographie

Exposition Internationale Universelle de 1900, Catalogue général officiel, Paris, 1900, p. 127
Jean-Georges Vibert, La comédie en peinture, Paris, vol. I, p. 136-8, illustrated p. 136

Description

For Vibert, art was  inseparable from science: innovations in chemistry allowed for new pigments, brighter colors, and methods for preservation. In 1892 the eigth edition of the artist’s extensive study of The Science of Painting was published, with two chapters devoted to “Water Body-Colours” and “Watercolours,” which he considered “a very complex style of painting,” as proven by his extensive instructions on proper paper, pigments, and fixatives. As the art critic Edward Villars reported, Vibert intended this process to render “water-color imperishable and unchangeable… [though] we shall have to wait a century or so to see whether M. Vibert can really guarantee immortality of not” (as quoted in Eric Zafran, Cavaliers and Cardinals, exh. cat., p. 98).  The incredibly fresh, saturated colors of Le retour des Reliques proves Vibert’s theories were scientifically sound, and connect the present-day viewer with the artist’s brilliant imagination. As with many of Vibert’s subjects, the narrative context of Le retour des Reliques is revealed with a close reading of the artist’s Comédie en peinture.  There, Vibert recounts the tale of a Breton fisherman who  stumbled across a group of white-robed, ghostlike friars joined by an Italian cardinal in red, all of them led in prayer by the booming voice of their bishop as  a team of monks carried onto shore a reliquary glinting in the early morning light. The relics were engraved with the admonition “It is a sacrilege to hide me from the light as long as I am in France,”  and the return was an elaborate and covert operation. As such, the old fisherman had kept his story a secret since his youth, leaving it to Vibert to record with bold detail, each clergyman’s face a distinct portrait, the expressions and postures signifying the solemnity of the scene, while the tall masts of a ship in the distance and the open crate on the skiff at shore point to the mission. While many of the artist’s ecclesiastical subjects are comical,  the present work is one of the few with a reverent context.  French relics had been stolen, hidden, and returned since medieval times, and while the exact episode Vibert depicts may not be historical it clearly communicates the power of faith. Interestingly, Le retour des Reliques was kept in the artist’s personal collection, only sold as part of his estate, suggesting its subject had particular resonance for Vibert. Indeed, in its subject and technique Le retour des Reliques points to Vibert as a man as much of faith as of art and science.

19th Century European Art

|
New York