Lot 419
  • 419


60,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • After William Bouguereau
  • Mignon
  • signed W-BOUGUEREAU. (center left) 
  • oil on canvas
  • 18 1/4 by 15 in.
  • 46.4 by 38.1 cm


Goupil & Cie, The Hague, no. 2961 (acquired directly from the artist, July 1867, as Tête d'enfant de Far from Home
Theodoor Soeterick, Utrecht (acquired from the above through Mr. Patyn, October 1867)
Thence by descent


Mark Steven Walker, "William-Adolphe Bouguereau, A Summary Catalogue of the Paintings," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, L'Art Pompier, exh. cat., Borghi & Co., New York, 1991, p. 67
Damien Bartoli and Frederick C. Ross, William Bouguereau, Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Work, New York, 2010, p. 100, no. 1867/08, illustrated; and in the revised 2014 edition, p. 100, no. 1867/08, illustrated


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work has never been restored. This is a reasonably early work for the artist and as a result the gesso and paint layers are slightly heavier than in the later works. The details are very fine and there is no damage at all to the face and most of the hair. Some cracking has developed in the girl's crimson dress revealing a lighter color beneath. There is a similar kind of cracking in the darker background and in the hair on the right, particularly. These cracks are noticeable now. The paint layer is stable. The cracking, although visible, is not badly raised and it would seem that corrections can be made without lining the canvas. The work will clean very well and one should retouch at least some of the cracks in the background and the red dress in order to bring clarity to the image.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This emotive portrait marks an important rediscovery for William Bouguereau. Sold to a collector in Utrecht in 1867, the year that it was painted, it has been passed down through the same family for generations over more than 150 years. Until today, this painting has been known only from a postcard published by Goupil with the title, Mignon. However, the child’s face and distinctive expression are well-known from the artist’s Loin du Pays in Puerto Rico’s Museo de Arte de Ponce (fig. 1). Emilienne Cesil-Biegler, the girl who posed for this painting, was among Bouguereau's favorite models during this period and appeared in most of his works painted between 1865 and 1867, among them La prière (1865, Private Collection), L’oiseau chéri (1867, Yamadera Goto Museum, Japan) and La reveil (1865, Private Collection, see lot 614 for reduction). Born in 1859, she was the daughter of Bouguereau's housemaid.