Lot 239
  • 239

Pierre Mignard and Studio

100,000 - 150,000 USD
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  • Pierre Mignard and Studio
  • The family of Darius before Alexander the Great
  • oil on canvas
  • 114 x 168 inches


Studio of the artist, rue de Richelieu, until his death in 1695, when reverted to the French Royal collection; 
King Louis XIV, Paris, hung in the Galerie d'Apollon, Palais du Louvre;
Gros collection, until 2001;
From whom acquired by the present owner. 


New York, Wildenstein & Co. Inc., The Arts of France, October 2005 - January 2006, cat. 34.


Comte de Caylus, "Vie de Pierre Mignard", in Vies des Premiers peintres du Roi, depuis M. Le Brun, jusqu'à présent, F.B. Lépicié, ed., Paris 1752, I, pp. 160 - 161;
A.-J. Dézallier d'Argenville, Abrégé de la vie des plus fameux peintres, Paris 1762, IV, p. 85;
Hébert, L'Almanach pittoresque, Paris 1779, I, p. 207;
J.-J. Guiffrey, "Documents sur Pierre Mignard et sur sa famille (1660-1669)", in Nouvelles Archives de l'Art Français, 1874 - 1875, p. 41;
E. Le Brun-Dalbanne, "Pierre Mignard, sa famille et quelques-uns de ses tableaux", in Mémoires de la Société Académique du Département de l'Aube, XLI, 1877, p. 231;
F. Engerand, Inventaire des tableaux du roy rédegé en 1709 et 1710 par Nicolas Bailly, Paris 1899, p. 596, no. 384 (as a copy after Mignard);
J.-C. Boyer, "L'Inventaire après décès de l'atelier de Pierre Mignard", in Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, 1980, pp. 139, no. 2, 161, notes 19 - 21 (as probably Studio of Mignard);
N. MIlovanovic, "Le Roi et son peintre: La Famille de Darius de Charles Le Brun", in Versalia, no. 8, 2005, pp. 174-175, 178, note 59;
The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon 1er: A Centennial Celebration of Wildenstein's Presence in New York, New York 2005-2006, pp. 133-135, no. 34, reproduced;
N. Penny, National Gallery Catalogues: The Sixteenth Century Italian Paintings, III, Venice, 1540-1600, London 2008, p. 387, note 201;
P.-F. Bertrand, "Les Reines de Perse aux pieds d'Alexandre ou la Famille de Darius: un sujet emblématique pour l'Académie royale de peinture et pour les Gobelins", in A. Brejon de Lavergnée and J. Vittet, La Tapisserie hier et aujourd'hui, Paris 2011, p. 54-55, reproduced p. 61, fig. 10.


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 particularly large canvas is made from two pieces of linen; the horizontal join runs through the background immediately above all of the figures. The canvas has a good lining applied with wax, which nicely supports the paint layer. The stretcher is well built to handle a work of this scale. The varnish is quite uneven and could be improved. The paint layer still seems to be visibly dirty, but the colors are strong. From a visual examination, the condition seems to be very good in most areas. Restorations can be seen throughout under ultraviolet light, addressing small losses, structural damages and cracks, but no abrasion or discoloration seems to have occurred. As one can imagine, a large work on canvas such as this may have been folded or rolled at some point, causing associated small damages and losses. Despite these numerous losses and restorations, the paint layer itself has a marvelous quality and has fortunately avoided any damaging abrasion.
"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

This impressive and moving depiction of the Darius' Family before Alexander the Great is a replica of Mignard's signed work in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (inv. no. 1233).  The Hermitage canvas is dated 1689 and it is likely this painting dates to the same mature period, towards the end of the artist's career.  The present painting was commissioned by the Bâtiments du Roi as a cartoon for a tapestry yet, while the painting was completed, work for the tapestry was never undertaken.  In its original form, and perhaps more in keeping with the intended tapestry design, the composition was surrounded with a floral border, executed by Jean Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (1653 - 1715), though this was later removed.

The canvas remained in Mignard's home and is included in the inventory of 13 - 16 June 1695, taken shortly after his death (see Literature).  The painting became the property of the Crown and was eventually hung in the Galerie d'Apollon in the Palais du Louvre as part of the collection of King Louis XIV.

This painting will included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Pierre Mignard by Jean-Claude Boyer.