Lot 79
  • 79

Jean François Léonor Mérimée

60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • Jean François Léonor Mérimée
  • Erigone and Bacchus
  • oil on canvas


Probably Paris, Salon, 1795, no. 362 ("Une Bacchante jouant avec un petit Satyre").


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 has an old glue lining. The surface is stable and there is no need to reexamine the structural conservation. The painting is quite dirty and will respond well to cleaning. There is no visible abrasion to the paint layer and in the figures and the details surrounding them the condition is extremely fresh. Under ultraviolet light there seem to have been recent restorations added on top of an older dirty varnish. Almost all of these are in the darker colors and hardly any are in the sky or the figures themselves. In the darker colors there are restorations that are quite broad and probably address some kind of separation cracking, except possibly in the lower left beneath the torso of the Bacchus where a few losses may have occurred. Cleaning is recommended and it is more than likely that the amount of retouching required after cleaning will be less than what is currently on the painting.
"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

Mérimée entered the Ecole de l'Academie Royale in 1778 and remained there until 1783, studying with both Gabriel-François Doyen and François-André Vincent.  After receiving the second prize in the Prix de Rome in 1787 and third prize in 1788, he traveled to Rome where he stayed until 1793. Upon returning to France, he began to concentrate more on the study of chemistry and the restoration of paintings and, in 1830, published the results of his studies in this area in his treatise De la peinture à l'huile ou des procédés matériels employés dan ce genre de peinture depuis Van Eyck jusqu'à nos jours.  Though primarily a history and portrait painter, Mérimée also painted mythological subjects such as the present work.  Another of his mythological works, depicting Vertumnus and Pomona (1796), is in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier.

A painting exhibited as no. 362 in the 1795 Paris Salon by Mérimée is described as Une Bacchante jouant avec un petit Satyre and is probably identifiable with the present lot.