Lot 2
  • 2

William Bouguereau

40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • William-Adolphe Bouguereau
  • Portrait de Fernand Bartholoni
  • signed W. Bouguereau and dated indistinctly 185... (center left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 21 3/4 by 18 in. (painted as an oval)
  • 55.5 by 46 cm


Commissioned by Fernand Batholini
Thence by descent
Private Collection, Switzerland


Damien Bartoli with Frederick Ross, William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, New York, 2010, p. 43, no. 1855/07, illustrated p. 42; and in revised 2014 edition, p. 43, no. 1855/07, illustrated p. 42

Catalogue Note

In 1855 Bouguereau was on the verge of a promising career. He had recently returned from Italy after winning the Prix de Rome, and relocated to Paris where he was quickly establishing his reputation as an important artist and consequently earning substantial commissions.

One of the first commissions he received was a three-year contract to paint the decorations for the reception rooms at the Hôtel de Custine on rue La Rochefoucauld in Paris, a mansion belonging to the Swiss-born businessman and railroad magnate, François Bartholoni. The decorations were of Classical subjects and intended to evoke the paintings that Bouguereau had admired in Pompeii. At this time, Bouguereau was also commissioned to paint the decorations in the residence of François Bartholini’s first son, Anatole, and one of these decorative panels (1855, La Danse, fig. 1), currently hangs in the Musée d'Orsay. The present work, a distinguished portrait of Anatole's younger brother Fernand, can likely be dated to this period. 

This Portrait of Fernand Bartholoni, a rare example from Bouguereau’s formative period, has remained with the family for over a century. It presumably hung in the Villa Bartholoni, located in Geneva and built by François and his brother Constant in 1830.