Lot 7
  • 7

Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña
  • Still Life with Peacock, Flowers, Fruit and Japanese Vase, an Extensive Park Landscape Beyond
  • signed and dated N. Diaz. 1837 lower left
  • oil on canvas
  • 189 by 148.5cm., 74¼ by 58¼in.


Salomon von Rothschild (1774-1855; probably commissioned from the artist; with Schloss Schillersdorf inventory label on the reverse, and number on the stretcher)
Alphonse von Rothschild (Vienna 1878-New York 1942; by descent from the above, his great-grandfather)
Christie’s London (on deposit from the above by May 1923)
Sir Herman Lebus, Hatley Park, Cambridgeshire (1884-1957; Lebus was Chairman of Harris Lebus Ltd. of Tottenham, once the largest furniture manufacturer in the world and a company that was responsible for bringing the Arts & Crafts style before a mass audience in the 1900s)
Caelt Galleries, London (by 1981)
Purchased from the above by the present owner


Pierre Miquel & Rolande Miquel, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 2006, vol I, p. 45, illustrated; vol II, p. 263, no. 1650, catalogued & illustrated (as Parc du château de Stirling, Écosse, Diaz's submission to the 1835 Salon. Since the present work is dated 1837 and the park depicted is not that of Stirling Castle, it appears the two works have been conflated) 

Catalogue Note

This sumptuous still life, so different from Diaz's more usual Barbizon landscapes, was almost certainly commissioned by banker Salomon von Rothschild, whose dining rooms in the rue Laffitte in Paris Diaz had decorated two years before completing the present work. Artfully anachronistic, referencing the work of the Dutch masters Weenix and de Hondecoeter, it perfectly reflects Rothschild's predilection for the Old Masters. The vase, Japanese Imari, likely from the beginning of the eighteenth century, is perhaps a further reference to Rothschild's collecting tastes.

Salomon von Rothschild became an Honorary Citizen of the City of Vienna in 1843, after nearly a quarter of a century’s residence. Attracted by the countryside near his new business acquisition, the ironworks at Witkowitz, he bought Schillersdorf, an eighteenth-century property overlooking the river Oder, and the present work would have been among those he had brought from Paris to decorate his new home.

The estate consisted of a magnificent château, moats and fountains, kennels and game reserves as well as a foundry and other industrial works. Salomon appointed the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur to renovate the property. Over 350 acres were carved out of the estate (which had included 11,000 acres of woodland) to make the park. Over 100 men were hired to excavate the large lake which it was hoped would attract wild duck. Plants were regularly shipped to the Schillersdorf estate from Rothschild cousins in England.

On Salomon's death, Schillersdorf passed to his son Anselm, himself an avid collector who amassed some 600 works of art. Upon Anselm's death, the collection passed to his three sons, Albert, Nathaniel, and Ferdinand. The present work was left to Albert, on whose death it passed to his son Alphonse. Alphonse had strong ties with England through his English wife Clarice, née Sebag-Montefiore, and in 1923 consigned a group of pictures to Christie's in London for storage. A portion of these were eventually sold by Christie's on 23 June 1939, while Alphonse and Clarice were living in London. Although the present work has the sale date chalked on its stretcher, it was not included in the sale; rather, it appears to have been sold privately, presumably to its next known owner and possible friend of the Rothschilds, Sir Herman Lebus. Alphonse himself emigrated to America with his wife shortly afterwards, where he died on 1 September 1942.