Lot 298
  • 298

Henri-François Riesener

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Henri-François Riesener
  • Portrait of two young women, said to be the Baroness Pichon and Mme de Fourcroy
  • oil on canvas


By descent to Mme de Pellissier, granddaughter of Baroness Pichon;
Leonce Coblentz;
His sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 15-16 December 1904, lot 6 (as Baron Gérard);
Sale, Paris, Ader Picard & Tajan, 7 December 1971, lot 14 (as Baron Gérard).


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 not been recently restored. The canvas has an old lining. Although cracking is visible, particularly within the dress of the standing figure, it is not unpleasantly raised. The work is slightly dirty, and the few retouches that have been added are a little broad—for instance in the shadowed part of the left forearm of the seated sister. There is some cracking that has been retouched but not particularly well, for instance in the green drapery in the lower left. There do not appear to be any significant retouches in the face, except for a couple of spots in the cheek of the standing sister. These restorations are only faintly visible under ultraviolet light, but one can certainly identify them with the naked eye. The condition of the work is good and will improve greatly with careful cleaning and re-examination of the few existing retouches.
"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

We are grateful to Alexis Bordes for confirming this painting to be a work by Henri-François Riesener, on the basis of photographs.

In the 1904 sale (see Provenance) the sitters were identified as Emilie Brongniart (1780-1847), wife of Baron Louis-André Pichon (1771-1854) and her cousin, the wife of the chemist M. de Fourcroy.  The identification of the Baroness Pichon in this portrait seems quite plausible when a comparison is made to the portrait painted of her by Francois Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard in 1795 when she was fifteen.1  However, the wife of the chemist Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy, née Adélaide-Flore Belleville (first married to Charles de Wailly) was born in 1765.  The two sitters in this portrait look to be very close in age, making it doubtful that the young woman depicted standing and holding a letter is Mme de Fourcroy.  However, the Fourcroys and the family of Baroness Pichon were certainly related, so this may be another Fourcroy “cousine."


1.  In the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, Inv. no. 2010.97.1