54
54
*** Du Mélezet
Active mid-Seventeenth Century
STILL LIFE WITH WILD STRAWBERRIES IN A LATE MING BLUE AND WHITE BOWL
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 441,600 USD
JUMP TO LOT
54
*** Du Mélezet
Active mid-Seventeenth Century
STILL LIFE WITH WILD STRAWBERRIES IN A LATE MING BLUE AND WHITE BOWL
Estimate
250,000350,000
LOT SOLD. 441,600 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Old Master Paintings

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New York

*** Du Mélezet
Active mid-Seventeenth Century
ACTIVE MID-SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
STILL LIFE WITH WILD STRAWBERRIES IN A LATE MING BLUE AND WHITE BOWL

Provenance

Weinberger, Paris, 1937;
With Arnold Seligmann and Rey, New York, 1938;
Harry G.Sperling, New York, 1946;
With Kleinberger, New York, 1947;
Mrs. William R. Elsas, later Mrs. Francis Storza, Atlanta, Georgia, purchased prior to 1951;
Thence by descent in the Storza family;
By whom sold (Property from the collection of the late Eleanor M.Storza), New York, Sotheby’s, June 2, 1989, lot 42, there purchased for $550,000 by
Bruno Meissner;
With Bruno Meissner, from whom purchased by the present collector in  1992.

Exhibited

Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Athenaeum, The Painters of Still life, 1938, cat. 64, reproduced;
New York, Wildenstein Gallery, French Paintings from the Time of Louis XIIIth and Louis XIVth, 1946, cat. 31, reproduced p.53;
Paris, Grand Palais; New York, Metropolitan Museum; Chicago Art Institute, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth Century French Paintings in American Collections, January 29-November 28 1982, pp. 284-285, cat. no. 66.

Literature

K. Benedict, “A propos de quelques natures mortes de l’époque de Louis XIII”, Maanblad voor beeldende Kunsten, n. 2, 1948, p. 32, reproduced p.35;
K. Benedict, "Petits maîtres de la nature morte en France", L’œil, n. 91-92, July-August 1962, p. 44, reproduced;
M. Faré, La Nature Morte en France, Geneva 1962, vol. I, p. 90, n. 289, vol. II, reproduced pl. 129;
J. Thullier and A. Chatelet, La Peinture Française de Le Nain à Fragonard, 1964, pp.41-42;
M. Faré, Le Grand Siècle de la Nature Morte en France. Le XVIIème siècle, Fribourg 1974, pp.145-146, reproduced p. 146;
France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth Century French Paintings in American Collections, catalogue of the exhibition, Chicago 1982, cat. 66, reproduced p. 201.

Catalogue Note

The present work seems to be the only known painting by du Mélezet; a period inscription on the reverse of the panel, no longer legible, that was transcribed in the late 1940s by Benedict and by Wildenstein & Co. (see 1948 and 1962 Benedict Literature and Wildenstein Exhibited below) identifies the artist and provides the dating for the picture.  Pierre Rosenberg (see 1982 Exhibited below) suggests the following reading of the inscription:

“Du Mélezet painted these strawberries the first days of the month of October 1639, the king being at Grenoble.  The natural fruit was gathered from the mountain of the Grand Chartreuse by a peasant who chose them specifically with the plants, fruits, and flowers just as you see them in this painting.  Mélezet.”

It is known that Louis XIII stayed in Grenoble from September 21 through October 9, 1639 during a diplomatic mission to the duchy of Savoy; the present work, therefore, may be dated within that first nine day period of October 1639.

While the inscription makes it clear when du Mélezet painted the present painting, it gives fewer clues as to the artist himself.   It is not known whether the artist was a native of Grenoble or merely visiting, perhaps as part of the Royal entourage, as is theorized by Rosenberg.  Faré (see 1972 Literature below) states that this works is enough to place du Mélezet “au premier rang des peintres de la Réalité.”  He places him in the chapter entitled the “Ecole de l’ést”, and compares the present work with Sebastien Stoskopff’s Platter of Stawberries, Musée de Strasbourg, suggesting a non-Parisian origin.  Rosenberg, however, points out the similarity of the present work to the still lifes of the Parisian artists Louise Moillon and François Garnier, both active in Paris.  He further notes that the present work “has in common with theirs the same discrete, severe poetry, the same observational acuity, the same careful attention to truth.  (Du?) Mélezet appears, however, to give greater importance than his colleagues to light, a light that is cold and chisels out each flower and highlights each leaf.  The presence of the fly at center, on the edge of the table, provides an added note of realism, a device not infrequent in the history of painting, particularly in the works of still-life painters concerned with trompe l’oeil effects”.

Important Old Master Paintings

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New York