Lot 41
  • 41


15,000 - 25,000 EUR
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  • terracotta ; on a marble and brass socle
  • H. (bust) 35 cm ; 13 3/4 in.


Charles Haas collection (1833-1902), Paris, circa 1868 (by Houdon)
Marquis Etienne de Ganay (1833-1903), Paris, circa 1909, then marquise de Ganay (1838-1921), born Ridgeway, Paris (by Houdon)
Her sale Georges Petit Gallery, 8-10 May 1922, lot 212 (attributed to Houdon)
Acquired in this sale by her son, Charles Aimé Jean de Ganay (1861-1948), then by descent
Drouot-Richelieu sale, Paris, 28-30 March 2007, lot 171 (by Houdon, sold 60.000€)
Tomasso Brothers, Londres


L'Art pour Tous, 30 January 1868, p. 779, no. 1783 (Bust of a Young Girl by J. Houdon, M. Haas collection, engraved with the same socle)
S. Lami, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'école française au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1910 (rééd. 1970), p. 431 (by Houdon)
C. Dreyfus, « Collection de la marquise de Ganay », in Les Arts, December 1909, no. 96, p. 24, ill. p. 17 (by Houdon)
G. Giacometti, Le Statuaire Jean-Antoine Houdon et son époque (1741-1828), t. II, Paris, 1918, pp. 32, 261 (by Houdon)
L. Réau, Houdon, sa vie et son œuvre, Paris, 1964, p. 36, no. 150 (by Houdon) RELATED LITERATURE
P. Vitry, L'Art et les Artistes, Paris, 1909, p. 68 (for the Knight Stuers's marble)
M. Beaulieu,  'Le buste d'Emilie Brongniart par J.-L. Couasnon', in Revue du Louvre, 1974, pp. 105-108


The bust is in overall fairly good condition with minor surface dirt and a few minor chips to the high points in some places and along the edges consistent with age and handling. The top proper right area of her headdress, some smaller sections of the bow, to the back as well as the proper right shoulder of the dress have been restored. Several tiny chips to the neckline and the hair have been retouched. A missing section of the headdress was remodelled with Crystacal R plaster tinted with earth pigments. The replacement piece were adhered to the bust using Paraloid B72 adhesive, and any gaps were filled with an acrylate filler, tinted with Golden acrylic paint. The restoration has been effected by a professional restorer and is not visible, it does not harm the general appearance of the bust.The detailed report documenting the restoration is available upon request. There are a few minor chips along the edges of the marble base consistent with age and handling. Despite some restoration , a very attractive terracotta bust with a charming expression.
"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

The provenance of the present bust is known since mid-19th century. It was mentioned in the collection of Charles Haas, an influential man known to have inspired the character of Charles Swann, in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and for being Sarah Bernhardt's lover. The bust later appears in the collection of the Marquis de Ganay and his wife Emily, described as that of Anne-Adélaïde de Lignereux, daughter of a merchant-mercier who married François-Honoré-George Jacob-Desmalter, the famous cabinetmaker and close friend of Houdon. Before 1918, the bust was published several times as by Jean-Antoine Houdon. However, in the Marquise de Ganay posthumous sale, held in 1922, it was described as a presumed portrait of Mlle de Lignereux, attributed to Houdon.

A marble of this model in the collection of the Knight Stuers was published in 1909 as by Houdon (see F. Vitry, op. cit). According to Réaud, it would have previously been in the Wildenstein collection (cf L. Réaud, op. cit.). In the 1960s, another marble was exhibited in London, catalogued as 'by Houdon', by the Heim Gallery (see Conway Photographic Archive, B97 / 1873). Réaud also mentioned a Sèvres biscuit with General Mouchet, a descendant of Anne-Adélaïde. The current locations of both the marbles and the biscuit are unknown. Thus, the attribution of this model to Houdon was based on old publications without any mention of a known signed version. The features of our young girl, the treatment of her eyes, mouth and hair are closely comparable to other busts by Jean-Louis Couasnon, who was active in the circle of Houdon. Employed by the Menus Plaisirs since 1777, he exhibited at the Salon de la Correspondance in 1779 and 1785 and at the Louvres Salons, from 1795 to 1802. He excelled in making portraits of children, which were praised for their accurate likenesses and the softness of their features. In 1784, he modelled the bust of Alexandrine-Emilie Brongniart, daughter of the prominent architect (Louvre Museum, inv. no. RF2822), a few years after Houdon's portrayals of her older brother and sister, Alexandre and Louise (1777, Louvre Museum, inv. nos. RF1197 and RF1280). He modelled other portraits of children, including that of Charlotte Cruchy (1775, Musée Carnavalet) and François-Benoît-Fortuné of Pluvié (Louvre Museum, inv. no. RF 2039). Couasnon also exhibited the terracotta Portrait of a Girl at the 1779 Salon des Correspondances, together with another Young Girl. Lastly, in the 1799 Salon, he exhibited the busts of Two Children. Beyond the classical conventions of commissioned portraits, this bust testifies to the new position of children within the society during the Age of Enlightenment, as promoted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It is related to the intimate portraits which were in vogue in the circle of Houdon. Her evanescent smile and the hint of melancholy in her eyes portray a thoughtful little girl, absorbed in her thoughts.