Lot 58
  • 58

Jean Antoine Watteau

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Jean Antoine Watteau
  • Ceiling decoration
  • oil on panel


Probably commissioned by the Marquis de Nointel for his hôtel which was later called Hôtel de Poulpry;
Madame de la Béraudière (who purchased the Hôtel de Poulpry circa 1845);
Jacques Victor de la Béraudière;
M.E. Féral, circa 1897;
Bardac, 1920;
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 10-11 May 1920, lot 41;
There acquired by the Nunès and Figuet collection;
Anonymous sale, Paris, 30 November 1971, lot 29;
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 14 January 1988, lot 196;
There purchased by a New York private collector;
Thence by descent to the present owner. 


A. de Champeaux, L'art décoratif dans le vieux Paris, 1898, p. 99;
J. Cailleux, "Decoration by Antoine Watteau for the Hotel de Nointel", in Burlington Magazine, March 1961, pp. I-V, fig. 3;
S. Saint Girons, l'Hôtel Poulpry, Maison des Polytechniciens, 1963, pp. 15 and 30-33;
C.R. Camesaca and P. Rosenberg, Tout l'Oeuvre peint de Watteau, 1970, p. 93, cat. no. 30A, reproduced;
M. Roland Michel, Tout Watteau, la peinture, 1981, p. 18, cat. no. 32, reproduced (as probably after Watteau);
P. Rosenberg, Watteau: 1684-1721, exhibition catalogue, Washington 1984-5, p. 248, reproduced under cat. no. 2. 


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 complex work has been reinforced and supported by a series of cradles and applied wooden battens on the reverse. There is no reason to interfere with this work. The five incorporated panels have been cleaned and restored, and the restoration is attractive and adequate. There are a few chips here and there to the frame that could be restored. In the paintings themselves, some cracks in the panels and intermittent losses and abrasions have been selectively restored, but there is no chronic condition issue to this work and no visible abrasion to the details. There are a couple of slightly open cracks in the frame and in the painted panels, but very often the best approach is to leave these cracks unglued to allow the work to "breathe."
"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 painting was part of a series of decorative panels painted by a young Watteau circa 1707-1708 to decorate a small room in the Hôtel de Nointel, now the Maison des Polytechniciens, in Paris. The additional eight panels, all "arabesques", which comprised the rest of the series would have lined the walls of a dining room, or possibly a smaller room within the building. The hôtel was acquired by the Marquis de Nointel in 1705, and it is he, and not the archtiect of the building, Jean Baptiste Prédot, who likely commissioned the works from Watteau. These works are among Watteau's earliest of this type, and beautifully display his inventevness in the realm of compositional design, as well as his understanding of refined color and figurative drawing. 

In addition to the present work, two of the original eight wall panels are extant (Private Collection, see Rosenberg, op.cit, p. 249, reproduced in color), as well as another ceiling decoration which remains in situ (Rosenberg, op.cit). The entire original set of eight were engraved between 1731 and 1738 by Moyreau and Aveline, who directly reference Watteau as the artist.1 Although the present design was not engraved, it has been consistently connected with this commission by multiple scholars, including A. de Champeaux in 1898 and by Jean Cailleux in 1961 (see literature). Cailleux proposed a recontstruction of the series based on Aveline's engravings (fig.1), with an arrangment two rows of four, though this has not been definitivley proven.2 

1. J. Cailleux, op.cit., p. i
2. Rosenberg, op.cit, p. 248