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THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

Godfried Schalcken
LOVERS BY LANTERN-LIGHT OBSERVED
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 310,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
16

THE PROPERTY OF A LADY

Godfried Schalcken
LOVERS BY LANTERN-LIGHT OBSERVED
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 310,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Evening Sale

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London

Godfried Schalcken
MADE, NEAR BREDA 1643 - 1706 THE HAGUE
LOVERS BY LANTERN-LIGHT OBSERVED
signed lower right on table edge: G. Schalcken 
oil on oak panel
26.7 x 21 cm.; 10 1/2  x 8 1/4  in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

De Boullongne, Conseiller d'Etat;

His posthumous sale, Paris, 19 November 1787, lot 2, for 900 Francs to Dubois;

Coclers, Liège;

His sale, Paris, 9 February 1789, lot 2, for 2,800 Francs;

Tsar Paul I of Russia (1754-1801);

By whom given to his mistress, Mademoiselle Ekaterina Nelidova (1756–1839), lady-in-waiting to the Tsarina Maria Feodorovna;

By whom given to Sir Alexander Crichton (1763–1856);

With Duval, Geneva (possibly bears his seal with monogram D on the reverse);

Acquired en bloc with the Duval collection by the Duc de Morny;

Charles Auguste Louis Joseph Demorny de Morny, 1er Duc de Morny (1811 - 1865);

His sale, London, Phillips, 20 June 1848, lot, 46, for £178 10s. to Scot;

Edwin Henry Lawrence, F.S.A (1819-1891), London;

His deceased sale, London, Christie's, 4 May 1892, for £86. 2s;

Anonymous sale, Monaco, Sotheby's, 5 March 1984, lot 1013, for 360,000 FF to Koetser;

With David Koetser, Zurich;

From whom acquired by the late husband of the present owner.  

Exhibited

London, Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition, 1891-2, no. 49 (lent by E.H. Lawrence).

Literature

Possibly J.B. Descamps, La vie des peintres flamands, allemands et hollandais, vol. 3, Paris 1760, p. 144;

J. Smith, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. IV, London 1833, p. 276, cat. no. 35;

C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. V, London 1913, pp. 384–85, cat. no. 258;

T. Beherman, Godfried Schalcken, Paris 1988, p. 296, cat. no. 199, reproduced in colour p. 293.

ENGRAVED
By Klauber

Catalogue Note

This type of subject, in which lovers, perhaps servants, are observed by an amused third party has its origins in the genre pictures of Schalcken's fellow Dordrecht painter Nicolaes Maes, which date from the 1650s. By the time Schalcken was essaying such subjects two decades and more later, Maes had long since abandoned genre painting for portraiture. While Maes' paintings of such scenes were sometimes set in darkened corridors or undercrofts, they were not however candle-lit, as here, with the setting cast in such deep black shadow as to be invisible. For such a setting Schalcken was clearly inspired by his second teacher Gerrit Dou, who painted candle-lit scenes set in deep shadow from around 1660 and onward throughout the 1660s, when Schalcken was his pupil in Leiden. To the best of our knowledge Dou did not paint subjects like this one – the closest would be a work of around 1660 set in a candle-lit wine cellar where a maidservant drawing wine from a barrel and a young man sampling the wine are flirting, albeit rather decorously.1 Schalcken did paint a few other candle-lit flirtations, of which a good example is a small work on copper in the National Gallery, London, which dates from around 1670.2 Though both are set in a candle-lit room cast in deep shadow, the two works are not strikingly alike and follow different compositional schemes.

Beherman dated this work circa 1665–70, but since most of Schalcken's candle-lit paintings are later than this, a dating around 1670 or in the following decade seems more plausible.

NOTE ON PROVENANCE

As Hofstede de Groot was the first to notice, this is unlikely to be the painting mentioned by Descamps in the Van Heteren collection.

This painting has had a fascinating history. It was acquired by Tsar Paul I, presumably at or shortly after the Coclers sale in 1789. He gave this picture to his mistress, Yekatarina Nelidova, who was lady-in-waiting to the Tsarina. Yekatarina was evidently a beauty, as portraits of her by Dmitriy Levitzky and others clearly show. She left the Court in 1798. She may well have remained in favour with the Dowager Tsarina, however. She is believed to have given the present painting to Alexander Crichton, a Scots physician, who studied medicine all over Europe, before graduating in Leiden. In 1804 he was appointed Physician in Ordinary to Tsar Alexander I of Russia and to Maria Feodorovna, the Dowager Empress, a post he held until 1819, when he returned to London.

The Swiss-born Duc de Morny was the illegitimate son of Hortense de Beauharnais (wife of Louis Bonaparte and Queen of Holland) and Charles Joseph, Comte de Flahaut, and thus the half-brother of the Emperor Napoleon III, and the grandson of Talleyrand.  Known by polite fiction as the Duc de Morny, he entered the army, serving in Algeria during its conquest by France, and later went into business, establishing a sugar-beet factory, and entering into a variety of speculations,  helped by his mistress Françoise Mosselman, the beautiful and wealthy wife of the Belgian ambassador, Charles Aimé Joseph Le Hon, Comte Le Hon. Eventually there were few great commercial enterprises in Paris in which he did not have an interest.  He was deeply involved in horse-racing, as well as the arts, having taken Delacroix to Tangier in 1832, and later promoting the early career of Sarah Bernhardt.  He was temporarily ruined by the Revolutions of 1848, which probably occasioned the sale of part of his collections, including the present picture, in London in the same year - although his acquisition of Duval's collection was probably another speculation.  The remainder of his valuable collection of pictures, including Fragonard's The Swing, were sold after his death.  

Edwin Lawrence was the great-nephew of the painter Sir Thomas Lawrence.  A successful stockbroker, he amassed a considerable collection of Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, which he later attempted, though unsuccessfully, to sell privately to the British and South Kensington Museums.  The collection was dispersed at Sotheby's in 1883 and 1888, and like the present picture, in sales following his death in 1892.

1 Private collection, see R. Baer, Gerrit Dou 1613–1675, exh. cat., Washington 2000, pp. 110–11, no. 23, reproduced.

2 A.K. Sevcik, Schalcken. Gemalte Verführung, exh. cat., Cologne 2015, pp. 239–40, no. 58, reproduced.

Old Masters Evening Sale

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London