443
443

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NORTHEASTERN COLLECTION

Charles Victor Thirion
FRENCH
PETITE BERGÈRE 
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT
443

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NORTHEASTERN COLLECTION

Charles Victor Thirion
FRENCH
PETITE BERGÈRE 
Estimate
70,000100,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Art

|
New York

Charles Victor Thirion
1833-1878
FRENCH
PETITE BERGÈRE 
signed V. THIRION and dated 1878 (lower left) 
oil on canvas
53 3/4 by 30 in.
136.5 by 76.2 cm
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Provenance

Probably, Goupil & Cie., The Hague, no. 12757 (acquired in 1878, as Une Italienne
Probably, J. van Geurep, The Netherlands (acquired from the above, September 1878) 
Sale: Sotheby's, Amsterdam, November 5, 1991, lot 50, illustrated 
Lexington Trust, Beverly Hills, California 
Sale: Heritage Auctions, Dallas, May 15, 2012, lot 64066, illustrated 
Acquired at the above sale 

Exhibited

Probably, Paris, Salon des Artistes Français, 1878, no. 2120 (as Petite bergère d'Attina (Campanie))

Catalogue Note

Petite bergère is among Charles Victor Thirion’s most striking compositions. Completed in 1878, this work is almost certainly the same as Petite bergère d'Attina (Campanie), which Thirion presented at the Salon of the same year. Painted as a full-length portrait in near life-size, the young shepherdess shields her eyes from the sun in order to fully engage the viewer, with whom she makes direct contact. The rocky hills of Corsica and the misty cerulean sky fade behind her, outlining her vibrant and brightly colored costume, while her flock quietly rests behind her. 
 

In the nineteenth century, as more people relocated to industrialized cities, peasants provided popular subject matter for artists in the nineteenth century as urban audiences viewed their pastoral counterparts with fascination and probably envied what they perceived to be a humble, uncomplicated and more gratifying way of life. One of the champions of this genre was William Bouguereau, Thirion’s teacher and close friend. Bouguereau’s beautiful young peasant models, almost exclusively female, combined earthbound workers with classical pastoral poetry, a formula that brought him enormous commercial success. Thirion built on this model, and perhaps looked to works such as Bouguereau’s 1872 Salon entry Faucheuse (Colección Pérez Simón, fig. 1), for inspiration. Painted for the first Salon since the atrocities of the Franco-Prussian War, the painting attracted much praise, with the columnist Marc de Montifaud commenting “His [Bouguereau’s] peasant girls are princesses disguised as cowherds, and we do not dare to regret the absence of rusticity when we consider the nobility of his Faucheuse…” (see Damien Bartoli and Frederick C. Ross, William Bouguereau, His Life and Works, New York, 2010, p. 214).

Only a year after painting Petite bergère, Thirion succumbed to injuries sustained in the Franco-Prussian War. Bouguereau immediately assumed the most pressing debts after the artist’s death, paid for Thirion’s funeral, and later organized a charity auction for the benefit of his widow and children, solidifying the deep ties between teacher and pupil (Bartoli and Ross, p. 260).

19th Century European Art

|
New York