Lot 16
  • 16

Jules-Léopold Boilly

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Jules-Léopold Boilly
  • Trompe l'Oeil of a Bookshelf with a Terracotta Relief
  • signed J s. BOILLY
  • oil on canvas
  • 15 7/8 x 12 1 1/4 inches


Possibly in the collection of Jules-Léopold Boilly;
Anonymous sale, New York, Christie's, 31 January 1997, lot 95;
There purchased by the present collector.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com , an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting is in marvelous condition and if it were to be dusted, it should be hung as is. The canvas is unlined. There is a small repair in the lower center and under ultraviolet light some restorations are visible in this area and in a couple of spots in the upper left. The temptation to apply a brighter varnish should be resisted since although the cracking is stable and to be expected, it will become more visible with a shinier varnish.
"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

The terracotta relief of a Triton depicted in this painting once belonged to Jules Boilly and was included in the auction of his property in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, on March 19-20, 1869, lot 336.1  At that time, the sculpture was thought to be by Pierre Puget (1620-1694).  Indeed, in the present painting, Boilly has depicted the terracotta on a bookshelf with a copy of the then recently published catalogue raisonné by Léon Lagrange on the works of Puget leaning against the left side of the sculpture. As Lagrange's book was published in 1868 and Boilly sold the sculpture in March of 1869, it gives us a fairly secure circa date of 1868-9 for the execution of the present painting.  Given that the artist sold the sculpture so soon after painting it, it is possible that he was creating for himself a memento of a favorite object.  The terracotta has since been re-attributed to the sculptor François Caravaque (circa 1640/45 – 1698), who collaborated with Puget, and is now in a private collection, London (see fig. 1).

Jules Léopold Boilly was the son of the painter Louis Léopold Boilly.  He studied with his father and was apprenticed to Baron Gros; in 1814 he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  After traveling to Italy in 1826, he returned to Paris where he became known primarily as a portrait painter and lithographer.  The 1869 sale of his collection included other terracottas by Clodion and Bouchardon as well as drawings, furniture and lithographs.



1.  In the 1869 sale, lot 336 is listed as a terracotta relief by Pierre Puget and described as:  "Haut-relief représentant un jeune Triton dont les jambs se terminent en queue de poisson.  Il et assis sur un tronc d'arbre et se retourne pour appuyer ses mains sur le navire.  Etude pour la decoration d'un vaisseau.  Monument rare, d'une execution delicate et très soignée."  It sold for the then enormous sum of 1080 francs.