Lot 28
  • 28

Vittorio Matteo Corcos

150,000 - 200,000 USD
137,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Vittorio Matteo Corcos
  • Neapolitan Beauties  
  • signed V. Corcos and dated 85 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas 


Thomas McLean, London
Private Collection, United Kingdom
Sale: Sotheby’s, New York, November 4, 2011, lot 22, illustrated
Acquired at the above sale 

Catalogue Note

Born into a Jewish family of the Italian port city of Livorno, Vittorio Matteo Corcos showed his aptitude as an artist from a young age. At sixteen he was admitted into an advanced position at Florence’s Academia di Belle Arti, followed by study in Naples with the artist Domenico Morelli, who encouraged his move to Paris in 1880. Upon arriving in Paris, Corcos quickly introduced himself to the Italian expatriate artists Giuseppe de Nittis and Giovanni Boldini. Both artists would influence Corcos greatly, and de Nittis hosted regular salons which allowed him to meet such luminaries as Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte and, perhaps most consequentially, his dealer, Adolphe Goupil, with whom he signed a fifteen year contract. He quickly established himself and gained his reputation as the "peintres des jolies femmes," a moniker given to him by The Times correspondent Henri De Blowitz that followed him for his entire career, and is justified by the present work.

Painted in Paris, Neapolitan Beauties features an Italian subject set against a striking backdrop of the Gulf of Naples, which harkens back to the artist’s roots. The Beauties depicted here are effortlessly chic, almost doll-like, as they pose by the seaside, with a spouting Mount Vesuvius adding drama to the horizon. Their exquisite dresses serve as a showcase for Corcos' expert and swift paint handling, and he includes a sophisticated poodle as their companion. Curly-haired poodles, or Barbets, were extremely popular in Europe in the nineteenth century. They were prized as hunters and as intelligent companions with human characteristics. They have been included in works by many artists, from Albrecht Dürer to Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to Louis de Schryver; in Faust, Goethe has Mephistopheles come back to earth as a black poodle. The poodle shown here is distinguished by her neatly clipped coat and is as stylish and refined as the elegant women who care for her.