Lot 105
  • 105

Jean Barbault

15,000 - 18,000 EUR
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  • Jean Barbault
  • A swiss guard
  • Signed lower right J Barbault
  • Oil on canvas


A l'oeil nu le tableau apparaît dans un état de conservation relativement satisfaisant, il a fait l'objet d'un réentoilage réalisé dans la première moitié du XXe siècle, un peu fort qui a légèrement tassé la matière. On remarque un réseau de craquelures un peu visible autour du personnage. On remarque quelques légères usures dans les parties sombres dans le vêtement et le visage, la signature en bas à droite est assez difficilement lisible, du à certaines usures. On remarque une bande de restauration d'un centimètre de hauteur dans la partie supérieure dans toute la longueur. A la lampe UV : Le tableau apparaît sous un vernis très légèrement vert. On remarque une bande de restauration dans la partie supérieure, déjà mentionnée. Quelques fines reprises au niveau des craquelures dans les vêtements et dans le visage. To the naked eye, the painting is in an reasonably good conservation. It has been recanvassed in the first half of the XXth century, in a bit strong way which flattened the surface a bit. We can see a network of cracks around the character. We can see few light wears in the dark areas, the clothes and face of the character, the signature lower right is also hard to read. We can see a thin strip of restoration 1 cm large along the upper edge. Under the UV light : the painting is under a slightly green varnish. We see the already mentioned restorated strip. Few restoration in the cracks around the clothes and the face of the character.
"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

This Swiss Pontifical Guard is the only one from the eponymous series by Jean Barbault to be in motion, and to feature in the background both a column and a bay. It is also the largest, along with one from the Besançon Museum of Fine Arts1, with comparable dimensions.
Following his rejection for the Grand Prix of Rome in 1747, the young Barbault refused an academic career and went to Rome on his own where he befriended Academy residents and attended festivities in the Eternal City. He painted two great series of traditional costumes, those of the Orientals and those of the Italians. As soldiers recruited in Switzerland and served as the pope’s personal protectors, the Swiss Guards belong to the second series executed, according to Paul Mantz2, between 1749 and 1752, and were a commission from the Marquis de Vandières (1727-1781), future Director of the French King's Buildings. Numbering twelve, the paintings from the series were a quite successful, which prompted the painter to reproduce some of his figures such as the Swiss guard, examples of which are found in Swiss private collections and in the Besançon Museum of Fine Arts, France.
Jean Barbault's fairly visible and outlined strokes contrast with the French tradition of canvases depicting traditional attire that are found in Boucher, Greuze, and Corot; bringing him closer to a Velasquez or a Zurbáran, which explains partly the confusion often made with these two painters3. However, as the article in the 1975 La Revue du Louvre points out, Barbault remains a profoundly original and unique artist who, through his picturesque costumes, offers an a joyful image of the Rome of Jean-François de Troy, Vien, Le Lorrain, or Challe.

1. Inv. 983.3.1
2. P. Mantz, "Jean Barbault", in La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, Paris 1863.
3. N.V., "Jean Barbault", in La Revue du Louvre and the museums of France, Paris 1975, p. 78.
4. Ibid., p. 78.