Lot 23
  • 23

Charles-François Daubigny

70,000 - 100,000 USD
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  • Charles-François Daubigny
  • Paysans allant aux champs (Le matin)
  • stamped CD (lower left) 
  • oil on canvas
  • 57 by 94 1/2 in.
  • 144.8 by 240 cm


Collection of the artist 
Probably, Madame Veuve Daubigny (and sold, her sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 14, 1891, lot 5, as Le Chant du coq)
Probably, Sedelmeyer, Paris (acquired at the above sale) 
Alexander Blumenstiel, New York (and sold, his estate, American Art Association, New York, February 15-16, 1906, lot 205, illustrated, as Early Morning
B.A. Cohen (acquired at the above sale) 
Holland Galleries, New York
Zenas Crane, Dalton, Massachusetts 
Gifted from the above, 1914


American Art News, February 24, 1906, vol. IV, p. 7
"Complete Catalogs of Important Sales of Paintings," American Art Annual, New York, 1907-08, vol. VI, p. 23 
Robert Hellebranth, Charles-François Daubigny 1817-1878, Morges, 1976, p. 289, no. 887, illustrated 


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in excellent condition. The canvas has a respectable old glue lining. The heavy paint layer is in beautiful state. The work is clean and lightly varnished. There is a small restoration 3 inches to the left of the man's thigh. Otherwise, only a few tiny random spots of retouching are visible under ultraviolet light. The painting can be hung as is, but the frame could be re-gilded.
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.

Catalogue Note

A member of the Barbizon group by artistic conviction and by strong friendship, Charles-François Daubigny was also drawn into the early Impressionist movement as a mentor to both Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. With these younger artists, Daubigny shared a lifelong interest in the exploration of unusual light effects and painting with spontaneity and sincerity. These elements were critical in shaping his Impressionist followers’ own attitudes toward technique and subject matter.  Paysans allant aux champs blends a popular Barbizon motif, fieldworkers heading out to a day’s labor, with an exploration of the color and brushwork needed to depict the shifting atmospheric effects of night sky and stars fading with the strengthening morning sun. The grand scale composition, a format favored by the artist in his later career, and the strokes of broadly applied pigment effectively capture France’s rich farmland and Daubigny's experience of it when painting en plein air.  The shifting shades of green in the shadowy landscape are background to the bright red of a rooster’s comb as he crows to the sun, while the farmers, faces unseen, scythe and rake in hand, stoically pass; each element suggests the hushed, somnolent moments between night and dawn.

Though the exact date of Paysans allant aux champs is unknown, the expressive colorism and panoramic view relates closely to several works of the late 1870s, such as Moonrise at Auvers (fig. 1, 1877, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) and other compositions that capture twilight or dawn. The present work may also be one of two seen by Daubigny’s American student Dwight W. Tyron when visiting his studio in 1877 and remembered as “in every way the best I have seen from his brush… The whole effect was so just in color, and so full of the mystery of the hour, that one felt the truth of it, given, as it was, with convincing power” (Dwight W. Tyron, “Charles-François Daubigny,” John C. van Dyke, Modern French Masters, a Series of Biographical and Critical Reviews by American Artists, London and New York, 1896, p. 165). When Tyron asked if the paintings might be for sale, Daubigny replied, “they are for my family… they are both too large and too bold to find a purchaser; all my best work remains with me, and are pour la famille” (Tyron, p. 165). Indeed, a work titled Le Chant du coq (with the same dimensions as the present work) and a compositional pendant Parc à Moutons, Effet de Lune (Hellebranth no. 910, where it is dated 1878) were included in Daubigny’s widow’s sale of 1891, where it was acquired by Charles Sedelmeyer, the Austrian dealer who commissioned several large scale works from the artist in the 1870s. Soon thereafter, both works entered the collection of Alexander Blumenstiel (1843-1905), a New York lawyer, writer, art critic and connoisseur with Tyron’s illustrative descriptions reprinted in the collection’s catalogue when sold in 1906.  By the late nineteenth century, the artist’s reputation in the United States was well secured, his works actively promoted by the era’s most important galleries and included in the most prominent collections from Baltimore’s William T. Walters to New York’s William Henry Vanderbilt (see: Lynne Ambrosini, “The Market for Daubigny’s Landscapes, or ‘The best pictures do not sell,’” Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh, Impressions of Landscapes, exh. cat., Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2016-17, p. 86-7).  As Tyron explained,  Daubigny’s “name was as well known in my own country as in France, and… his work [was] to be found in all our larger cities” (Tyron, “Charles-François Daubigny,” p. 156).