Lot 288
  • 288

François Pascal Simon Gérard, called Baron Gérard and studio

80,000 - 120,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • François Pascal Simon Gérard, called Baron Gérard and studio
  • "Corinne au Cap Misène"
  • oil on canvas


Probably painted for Count Pozzo di Borgo;
Remained in the artist's family by descent:
Collection of Baron Henri Gérard in 1878;
Collection of Count Foy in 1891;
Sale, Bayeux, Bailleul-Nentas, 11 November 1999, lot 40.


Tableaux anciens et modernes exposés au profit du musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1878, no. 110;
Exposition des arts au début du siècle, Paris, Palais du Champ de Mars, 1891, no. 374;
Portraits de femmes sous les trois Républiques, Bagatelle, 1909, no. 83.


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 work has been successfully restored and should be hung in its current state. The canvas has been lined and an un-adhered piece of canvas is attached to the back of the painting. The paint layer is in lovely condition. It can clearly be seen that there is very little damage or restoration throughout the composition. There is a vertical break in the canvas in the volcano and sky above in the upper left which has been restored; this is an isolated damage and loss. There are also a few very small isolated restorations in the center of the right side, in the upper left corner and along the horizon on the left, but throughout the remainder of the picture this is clearly a mostly unrestored and undamaged picture.
"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

Gérard was commissioned to paint Corinne, the heroine of Madame de Stael's 1807 novel of the same name, on quite a few occasions.  No doubt the subject of Corinne, the story of a beautiful and independent poet, written by one of the most famously controversial female authors in French literature at the turn of the 19th century, would have appealed to the French aristocracy in the Salon society of this period.

The present version depicts Corinne the moment after she relates the stories of the famous Cape Miseno in the Bay of Naples, shown here in the background.  In a moment of great nostalgia and sadness, the poetess, dressed as a muse à l'antique, sits on a ruined column, her eyes averted to the sky.  This Corinne is most likely the painting described by Melle Godefroid, a pupil of Gérard, who keep detailed notes of his accounts as, Corinne, figure seule et grande comme l'original, faite expres pour Pozzo di Borgo.  This painting, commissioned by the French ambassador to Rome, Pozzo di Borgo, apparently never made it to the ambassador, and instead remained in the artist's family collection until sold in 1999 at the Bayeux sale (see provenance).  The "original" that Godefroid refers to above is not in fact the first representation of Corinne by Gérard, but probably a second or third version given by Talleyrand to his niece, the Duchess of Dino, in 1827.  Now lost, that Corinne was formerly in the collection of the Château de Rochecotte, and was removed from there 1837.  Gérard also exhibited aCorinne at the Salon of 1822 and then again in 1824. 

The original commission for Corinne, ordered by Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia, was conceived as a memorial to Madame de Stael, his dear friend, who, after being exiled by Napoleon for what he considered to be her licentious opinions and writings, died in 1817.  The Prince envisioned an idealized portrait of de Stael as her heroine, Corinne.  Upon the advice on Madame Récamier, he wrote to David, whose fee of 40,000 francs and whose concept of painting Corinne Crowned at the Capitol, was rejected by the Prince.  Madame Récamier then recommended Gérard, who agreed to paint Madame de Stael as Corinne for 18,000 francs.  That painting, given by the Prince in 1822 to Madame Récamier in exchange for a portrait of herself by Gérard, is now in the Musée de Lyon, France.

The present version differs from the original in that here, the artist focuses the drama and sadness on the single figure of Corinne.  He has removed the figures of Oswald, Corinne's lover and his friends who, in Madame Récamier's version, stand behind the poet, listening to her in a state of ecstasy.  Instead, he leaves Corinne alone in her despair and sadness against a frightening landscape with the erupting Mount Vesuvius and heavy, brooding skies surrounding her.

Traditionally considered to be entirely by Gérard, it has been suggested to us that there may be studio participation in this composition.