Lot 1
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Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau
  • La coupe improvisée
  • signed Elizabeth Gardner (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 59 1/4 by 41 7/8 in.
  • 150.4 by 106.2 cm


Joseph Sartor Galleries, Dallas


Paris, Salon, 1884, no. 1002


"American Register," Art Notes, vol. XV, no. 837, April 19, 1884, p. 5
"American Women in the Paris Salon," The Art Amateur, vol. 11. no. 3, 1884, p. 51
"The Paris Salon," Art Amateur, vol. 11, no. 2, 1884, p. 35
Theodore Child, "American Women in Paris," Art Amateur, vol. 10, no. 4, 1884, p. 86
"My Notebook," Art Amateur, vol. 10, no. 6, 1884, p. 122


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in beautiful condition. It is cleaned. The canvas has a good lining applied with a non-wax adhesive. There is no abrasion or weakness to the paint layer. There are no retouches of any real consequence and certainly no damages. The work should be hung as is.
"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

From her first exhibition at the Paris Salon in 1864 to her final submission in 1914, Elizabeth Jane Gardner had one of the most successful careers of any American expatriate artist of her time in the French capital. Her pioneering efforts in relation to training and exhibition paved the way for generations of aspiring artists who were impressed by her artistic expression, marketing skills and determination. Art dealers, too, recognized the enduring value of her work and when La coupe improvisée was painted, Knoedler Galleries, New York, had purchased her entire artistic production for the year, sight unseen. While a painting by Gardner was placed in its gallery window, one contemporary journalist remarked, “I don’t think I ever passed that corner without seeing a dozen or more persons standing before the dealer’s window enjoying it also” (James Haynie, Paris Painters at Home,  Boston Herald, June 22, 1887).

The artist’s long-standing relationship with her mentor and teacher William Bouguereau, their nineteen year engagement and eventual marriage in 1896, undoubtedly contributed to her success and the honing of her skills as a painter. Although their oeuvres differ significantly, La coupe improvisée falls into a genre explored by both artists: the ideals of affection and guardianship among siblings or friends. 

In July of 1883, while Gardner was working on La coupe improvisée, the American Congress enacted a protectionist tariff on foreign works of art entering the United States. The French artistic community, which allowed foreigners to study and exhibit free of charge in their public institutions, was outraged by its nationalist ideology and proposed boycotting American artists from the Salon. In spite of this, the artist’s paintings continued to be exhibited, including the present work. Gardner wrote to her family in Exeter, New Hampshire, about the inclusion of this work, exclaiming that “the opening of the Salon has been for me all I could wish. My picture is successful, it is beautifully placed and attracts attention among the 2549 others” (Elizabeth Gardner to John Gardner, Gardner Family Archives, May 12, 1884).

Three years later, in 1887, Elizabeth Gardner became the first and only female American painter to receive a coveted Salon medal for her work, The Farmer’s Daughter (sold in these rooms, April 23, 2010, lot 28).

For the 1884 Braun photograph of this work, see Archives Photographiques du Centre Rhénan d’Archives et de Recherches Economiques, Mulhouse, France. Peintres modernes, cat. #2131.