Lot 56
  • 56

Charles Le Brun

70,000 - 100,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Charles Le Brun
  • The Allegory of Childhood
  • Oil on panel


Collection of M. Prarond / Abbeville, by a label on the back of the painting


Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), Louvre-Lens, 2016, n.30


B. Gady, L'ascension de Charles Le Brun, Liens sociaux et production artistique, Paris, 2010, pp. 63 et 66 ;


A l'oeil nu, le tableau apparaît dans un état de conservation très satisfaisant avec une très belle matière bien préservée et de beaux glacis. Il est peint sur un panneau enduite à l'arrière, constituée d'une planche, non parquetée. On ne remarque pas de manque et la matière est parfaitement stable. On ne remarque pas de restauration de matière à l'oeil nu. Le tableau a fait l'objet d'un nettoyage récent, très correctement réalisé. A la lampe UV, on remarque quelques légers points de restaurations dans le ciel. Quelques légères retouches dans le rideau à droite et une reprise dans le vêtement blanc du personnage assis. To the naked eye, the painting is in a very good overall condition with a nice paint surface and beautiful glazing. It is painted on one coated board, uncradled. We cannot see any lack of painting and the paint surface is perfectly stable. We can not see any restoration to the naked eye. The painting has been recently cleaned in a good way. Under the UV light, we can see some restoration in the sky. We an see some repainted areas in the curtain on the right and another in the white cloth of the sitted 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

To those who think of the Versailles ceilings, the tapestries about Alexander's life, and the grandiose projects for the Gobelins, this intimate and tender interior scene symbolizing the facetious charms of Childhood is surprising while pondering Le Brun's career!
Before being the founder of the Academy of France and the most absolute representative of what would be called Classical French art, Charles Le Brun had been an artist born under the more austere and calm reign of Louis XIII. This panel serves as our reminder of that aspect by revealing an almost unknown part of his career until recent research, and unfolds the genesis of this great painter.
Initially, like many artists of that time, Le Brun had thus undergone the influence of the Flemish painters, numerous in Paris and grouped in the Nordic community of the Saint-Germain district. It would be difficult indeed with this domestic scene, a rare and appreciable moment of a peaceful interior during the 1630s, not to think of the engraved series, The Five Senses by Abraham Bosse, contemporary with our panel. This allegory of Childhood was, moreover, a preparatory painting for a series of four engravings representing the phases of life, in lovely everyday scenes, scattered with humorous and accessible symbolisms. The engraved set is intact in the collections of the British Museum1  and required several engravers, at least one of whom was Flemish2 (fig.1). None of these images specify the creator, but one of them, that of the Virile Age, reveals hanging in the composition's corner an almanac of the year, illustrated with an engraving after Le Brun as an artist winking to his own works3!
Without a doubt, Le Brun had made four preparatory paintings for each of the engravings, but only two are now known and noted by the art historian of the painter Bénédicte Gady, our Childhood and Youth (same dimensions), which had emerged on the London market as a work by the circle of Johann Liss.
It is not known where these panels were after their execution, nor throughout the century, but a label on the verso of ours refers it to "Prarond à Abbeville", which seems to designate the writer and historian Ernest Prarond (1821-1909). This close friend of Charles Baudelaire, with whom he wrote the play Ideolus in 1843, was a native of Abbeville and was very attached to this pastoral region from which he drew a bucolic inspiration. A great poet as well as an historian, he had in his testamentary work, To the Fall of the Day, previously described the Seasons as the phases of the Life addressing Spring as the time of Childhood: "The Spring awakened yesterday / throwing a glance triumphant and proud / he throws far his various threads4 (...) ".

1. Inv. 1878,0713.2638 à 2641
2. L'Enfance a ainsi été gravée par Willem de Gheyn ; cf. Charles Le Brun 1619-1690, cat. exp. Musée Louvre-Lens, Paris, 2016, p. 122.
3. B. Gady, L'ascension de Charles Le Brun, liens sociaux et production artistique, Paris, 2010
4. E. Prarond, À la chute du jour : vers anciens et nouveaux, « Les joies des Saisons – II- Premières feuilles »Paris, 1876, p. 108.