Lot 3
  • 3

Corneille de Lyon

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Corneille de Lyon
  • Portrait of a gentleman, presumed to be RenĂ© de Batarnay, Comte du Bouchage
  • oil on panel


With D. A. Hoogendijk & Co., Amsterdam;
Acquired from the above by W.H. de Monchy, Rotterdam, circa 1950;
Thence by inheritance to the present owner.


The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Structural Condition The panel has been cradled and this is ensuring a secure and stable structural support. Paint Surface The paint surface has a very discoloured and opaque varnish layer and would undoubtedly be transformed by cleaning. A number of retouchings are visible in natural light having discoloured, most notably in the green background as well as a few small spots on the sitter's face. Inspection under ultra-violet light confirms how discoloured the varnish layers have become and how well the painting should respond to cleaning. Ultra-violet light also shows small scattered retouchings including several small areas on the sitter's hat and tunic. There are older retouchings that do not fluoresce clearly under ultra-violet light but are visible in natural light. There may be other retouchings beneath older opaque varnish layers which are not visible under ultra-violet light. The fine details of the painting, and in particular the sitter's face, appear well preserved. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition and should benefit considerably from cleaning and revarnishing.
"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 is the prime version of Corneille's three portraits of a gentleman identified as René de Batarnay, Comte du Bouchage. The identity of the sitter is made on the basis of its likeness to an anonymous chalk drawing of the same sitter today in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Corneille is thought to have painted a group of portraits of the Comte de Bouchage and his family in the 1530s and 1540s.

The two other versions of this portrait, neither of which are unanimously accepted as autograph, are in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, and The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York.1 The only difference in the former is a slight glimpse of a white collar beneath the Comte's ear but this is likely a later addition, done in the 1550s or '60s, to bring the clothing up to date. The version in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, shows no added ruff.

A portrait of the Comte's wife Isabelle of Savoy is also in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.2 Two depictions, also by Corneille, of the sitter's daughter Marie de Batarnay, later the wife of Guillaume II, Vicomte de Joyeuse, are in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Musée Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp. Another portrait said to be of Marie by Corneille was sold London, Sotheby's, 3 July 2013, lot 4, although the identification of the sitter in that painting is less certain as there is little in common with the physiognomy of the Houston and Antwerp portraits and, as de Groër notes, the clothes are datable to the 1560s, well after the execution of the other portraits of the Batarnay family.3

We are grateful to Alexandra Zvereva for endorsing the attribution to Corneille de Lyon and for identifying it as his prime version. Mme Zvereva has dated the portrait to c. 1545.

1 A. Dubois de Groër, Corneille de la Haye dit Corneille de Lyon, Paris 1996, pp. 101–83, cat. no. 80 and 80a, both reproduced.
2 Ibid., p. 222, cat. no. 140, reproduced p. 78.
3 Ibid., pp. 223–24, cat. nos 141, 141a, 142, all reproduced.