Lot 109A
  • 109A

Marguerite Gérard

120,000 - 150,000 EUR
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  • Marguerite Gérard
  • La Toilette de Minette
  • Oil on panel
    Signed lower left Mte / gerard


Anonymous sale, Paris, 18 April 1803, n°91 "Raton et Minette" ;
Sale Fouquet, Paris, 30 janvier 1805, n°35 ;
Sale collection of the cabinet of M. Rioux, Paris, 5 February 1816 ;
Collection Famille de Beauregard ;
Then by mariage collection famille Gautier (Lille) ;
In the family of the present owner since the 1920s


Museum Fesch d'Ajaccio, "Le cardinal Fesch et l'art de son Temps", 15 June - 30 September 2007, n°45, ill.


This work is in beautiful condition. The panel has been thinned and cradled. The cradle seems to be stabilizing the panel, which is flat and shows no instability. The paint layer may be slightly dirty, but it looks well nonetheless. Under ultraviolet light, one can see a diagonal line of retouches in the lower left in the floor and retouches to another thin scratch to the right of the brass urn on the left side. There is also one dot next to the unspun silk in the center right. The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. Le tableau est dans un bel état de conservation. Le panneau a été aminci et parqueté. Le parquetage semble avoir stabilisé le panneau qui est bien droit et ne présente aucun soulèvement. La surface picturale semble être légèrement sale mais rien qui ne gêne la lecture. A la lampe UV, on peut voir une ligne diagonale de retouche dans la partie basse à gauche dans le sol et une petite retouche d'une petite égratignure à droite de l'aiguière dans la partie gauche de la composition. Un petit point de retouche également près du métier à tisser au centre. Ce rapport de condition a été réalisé par Simon Parkes, de la société Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, un restaurateur indépendant qui n'est pas un employé de la maison Sotheby's.
"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

Our painting with the evocative title of "Toilette de Minette" forms a valuable testimony of fashions of the time summing all the themes that crossed the period.
Initially, our panel exudes the French Directory by displaying this sober interior. The aristocratic stuccoes here make way for bare walls with brown hues, sparsely decorated, and furnished with a simple engraving. The Old Regime, however, is not entirely forgotten with this refined new society, whether it is present in the Flemish ewer infused with chiseling, also visible in the painting, Lady with Doves, or the lacquered furniture, certainly the most valuable object of the room, but relegated to the middle ground.
The outfits of the two young ladies, perhaps sisters, are also splendid illustrations of this period of change in fashion as well as in morals. The tallest of the two women is wearing an apron dress with rolled sleeves, the vogue which lasted several years, and an under garment with satin stripes. The younger wears a lovely example of a spencer, these small rigid jackets disciplining the span of the sheath dresses, under a transparent shawl inspired by the Oriental styles brought from Egyptian campaigns.
However, the two stylish ladies are here more concerned by their pets than by their own activities. Marguerite Gérard liked cats to the point of depicting herself with a similar angora breed in an impressive portrait done in collaboration with Fragonard1 and offered the main role to this spaniel named Raton in charming paintings such as The Triumph of Raton.
Certainly the painter's art historian, Sally Wells-Robertson, reminds us that the representation of domestic animals was not trivial in Marguerite Gérard's painting, and that a young woman taking good care of her cat would soon find a good husband2. However, are these moralizing naiveties not appeased here?
Primarily, though the scene appears to be vapid, it is above all the snapshot of a serene moment between two young ladies, isolated in their reverie. The masculine presence could still be evoked, according to the art historian Carole Blumenfeld3, by the small bouquet of roses in the corner of the composition, perhaps offered by some lover.
Finally, beyond the documentary qualities, Gerard's paintings are above all a marvelous mixture of the artistic forces present, synthesized by a painter with a strong personality. A fairly Davidian metallic touch is thus mingled in her works to illustrate gallant scenes bearing the Rococo inheritance. Her passion for the Dutch masters that she observed daily at the Louvre, where she lived since the 1770s, is also tangible in her interior scenes with the same silent calm but implied with a timely mischievousness.

1. Le chat angora, galerie Konrad O. Bernheimer
2. Sally Wells-Robertson, Marguerite Gérard 1761-1837, Thèse, Université de New York, 1978, p. 101
3. C. Blumenfeld, Le Cardinal Fesch et l'art de son temps, cat. exp. Ajaccio, Paris, 2007, p. 128