Lot 6
  • 6

Giuseppe De Nittis

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
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  • Giuseppe De Nittis
  • L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris
  • signed and dated De Nittis 75 lower left
  • oil on canvas
  • 53 by 40.5cm., 21 by 16in.


Probably, Algernon Moses Marsden, Conduit Street Galleries, London (acquired from the artist via the art dealer Tedesco)
John Glas Sandeman (acquired by 1876, probably from the above. J.G. Sandeman, 1836-1921, was a soldier and collector, who also owned one of Gustave Courbet's finest still lifes, Apples, Pears and Primroses on a Table, now in the North Simon Foundation in California)
Eric Sandeman
Sale: Bonham’s, New York, 21 October 2009, lot 71
Purchased at the above sale


Paris, Cercle des Mirlitons, 1875
Glasgow, Institute of the Fine Arts, 1876, no. 35 (as L'Arc de Triomphe in 1872, lent by J.G. Sandeman)
London, King Street Galleries, Exhibition of a Collection of Pictures and Studies, by G. De Nittis, 1879, no. 1
Glasgow, Institute of the Fine Arts, 1883, no. 727
Glasgow, International Exhibition, 1888, no. 828 (lent by J.G. Sandeman)
Glasgow, International Exhibition, 1901 (lent by J.G. Sandeman)


Vittorio Pica, Giuseppe di Nittis. L'uomo e l'artista, Milan, 1914, illustrated opposite p. 52
Enrico Piceni, De Nittis, Milan, 1955, p. 184, catalogued
Mary Pittaluga & Enrico Piceni, De Nittis, Milan, 1963, fig. 25, illustrated, no. 319, catalogued & illustrated
Piero Dini & Giuseppe Luigi Marini, De Nittis, Turin, 1990, vol. I, p. 340, the present work probably cited; p. 399, no. 574, catalogued; vol. II, fig. 574, illustrated
Giuseppe De Nittis, I dipinti del Museo Civico di Barletta alla Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Venice, 1998, exh. cat., p. 23, illustrated


The canvas has not been lined and securely attached to its wooden stretcher. There is some minor craquelure notably in the sky in the upper left corner, however not too distracting. Ultra-violet light reveals some finely-applied scattered lines of cosmetic retouching addressing the aforementioned craquelure in the sky and in the standing woman to the right of the composition. This picture is otherwise in very good original condition and ready to hang. Presented in a decorative gilt frame with a nameplate. Colours are somewhat less red than in the catalogue illustration.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

In this quintessential evocation of the Belle Epoque, De Nittis captures a couple out on their morning ride along the Avenue Foch. Dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, they canter at a leisured pace, their destination perhaps the Bois de Boulogne, the vast green recreational expanse to the west of Paris.

Built between 1806 and 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon I and based on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Following damage in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Arch underwent restoration work in the mid 1870s (fig. 1). In his celebrated views of Paris at this time, De Nittis was particularly drawn to subjects which represented the city reborn, rising Phoenix-like from its troubled recent past. Painted the same year as the present work, La Place des Pyramides juxtaposes Frémiet's new gilded bronze sculpture of Joan of Arc against the reconstruction of the west wing of the Louvre, following arson during the Commune of 1871 (fig. 2).

In a letter to De Nittis dated 1 January 1875, the Paris dealer Tedesco refers to a forthcoming composition depicting the Arc de Triomphe, probably the present work, to be exhibited either at that year's Cercle des Mirlitons or Salon and to be sold to the London dealer Algernon Moses Marsden. After De Nittis broke off his contract with Goupil the previous year, this introduction to Marsden marked a turning point in his career, leading in turn to the artist's introduction to the British banker Kaye Knowles. In 1879 Marsden organised a one-man-show on De Nittis in London, in which the present work was shown.

De Nittis trained at the Accademia in Naples, and exhibited with the Macchiaioli in Florence in 1867, arriving in Paris soon afterwards to study under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He remained in France for the rest of his career, first exhibiting at the Salon of 1869, and continuing to do so throughout the 1870s and 1880s. He was closely associated with the Impressionists, becoming a close friend of Edgar Degas, who invited him to participate in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874.

Known as Avenue de l'Impératrice under Napoleon III, the Avenue Foch was briefly named Avenue Général-Uhrich between 1870-75, before being renamed Avenue du Bois de Boulogne until 1929. De Nittis lived at no. 64 from 1871 onwards.