Lot 38
  • 38

Jean Richard Goubie

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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  • Jean Richard Goubie
  • L'après-midi du dimanche au jardin d'Acclimatation
  • signed R. Goubie and dated 1882 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 26 3/4 by 39 1/2 in.
  • 67.9 by 100.3 cm


Private Collector (and sold: Sotheby's, New York, October 13, 1978, lot 204A, illustrated)
F. Michael Shapiro, Los Angeles
Private Collection


Paris, Salon, 1882, no. 1213


"The Salon, Paris," The Athenaeum, no. 2847, May 20, 1882, p. 643
Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Françoise Dupuis-Testenoire, Le peintre et l'animal en France au XIXe siècle, Paris, 2001, p. 259, illustrated as cover
Eric Baratay and Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Zoo: A History of Zoological Gardens in the West, London, 2004, illustrated opp. p. 72


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc., This painting has been recently restored and should be hung as is. The canvas is not lined but the tacking edges have been reinforced to allow for proper stretching. The surface is in very healthy condition. Under ultraviolet light there are barely any retouches visible and it seems more than likely that this picture has almost completely intact. There are a few retouches in the black dress of the older daughter feeding the swans yet other than this there appear to be no retouches. The painting is in beautiful state and should be hung as is.
"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."

Catalogue Note

Located in the northern part of Paris' Bois de Bolgone, the Jardin d'Acclimatation (also known as the Jardin Zoologique d'Acclimatation) was opened on October 6, 1860 by Napoleon III and Empress Eugènie.  The Jardin was designed, in part, to compensate for the heavily man-made landscapes of the Bois du Boulogne and entirely rebuilt into picturesque landscapes under Baron Haussmann's guidance in 1852-58. Its early director Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire intended the Jardin to "acclimatize" newly imported exotic animals to European environments, ultimately domesticating them or cross-breeding with domestic species (Baratay and Fugier, pp. 141-6).  Though kangaroos, giraffes, and monkeys resided in enclosed houses or cages, others of the menagerie were allowed relative freedom to roam in low-fenced enclosures.  It is one of these areas that Goubie depicts with vivid detail in the present work, exhibited to acclaim at the Paris Salon of 1882.  Here, a crowd of children (accompanied by mothers and caretakers) feed an eager gander of geese, along with swans and ducks, while others enjoy an animal ride. 

A student of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Goubie secured his reputation with equestrian scenes of well-dressed Belle Époque riders on a country ride or hunt astride handsome horses. The present work further demonstrates his keen sensitivity to the relationship of people and animals.  This composition could easily illustrate late nineteenth century guidebooks to Paris, such as the widely read editions published by Karl Baedeker, who encouraged a visit to the Jardin's  "enclosures... containing quadrupeds trained for the purposes of the garden or the amusement of visitors. A great source of delight to children here is a ride on the back of an elephant or a dromedary, or a drive in a carriage drawn by ostriches, llamas, etc. (Karl Baedeker, Paris and Environs, 7th ed., 1881, p. 159).  As Goubie portrays, the elephants in particular drew great crowds (a ride reasonably priced at 25 centimes generated enormous revenue for Paris and other cities' zoos, see: fig. 1). The pachyderm's bulk and strength seemed an incredible feat of nature, while its docile termerament encouraged visitors to make safe contact (Baratay and Fugier, p. 173).  As Baedeker promised, spending a sunny afternoon among the Jardin's animals afforded "one of the most attractive promenades in the environs of Paris" (Baedeker, p. 158).  Parisians could step away from city streets and into a realm of exotic (if heavily cultivated and curated) delight. 

Goubie's panoramic composition creates a dramatic sense of space and movement: he places the promenaders along a winding path, allowing the viewer to follow them from the horizon line and as they exit the picture space.  An element of humor further enlivens the subject, which skewers the visitors' eagerness to "see and be seen" among the Jardin's inhabitants. The blues, reds, bright pinks and purples of the children's smart costumes outshine the fur and feathers of the animals on display. Only the ostrich, pulling the red carriage, its long neck rising above the crowd, seems to acknowledge the viewer's presence.