Lot 449
  • 449


25,000 - 35,000 USD
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  • Edgard Maxence
  • Reverie
  • signed Edgard Maxence (upper left) 
  • oil on panel
  • 25 1/2 by 20 7/8 in.
  • 64.8 by 53 cm


J.J. Gillespie & Co., Pittsburgh 
Acquired from the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh Exhibition in 1925


Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Twenty-Fourth Annual International Exhibition of Paintings, 1925
Saint Louis, City Art Museum, Foreign Section of the 24th International Exhibition of Paintings at Carnegie Institute, 1926, no. 47 (lent by the present owner)


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 15, 1925, p. 4
The Pittsburgh Press
, 1925, p. 61, illustrated 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 1926, p. 102, illustrated on the cover of this issue


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is restored and should be hung in its current condition. The panel is flat and may be made from a single piece of mahogany. There is an original reinforcement across the top; the reinforcement across the bottom is no longer present. The paint layer is clean and varnished. This is a complex work incorporating gilding in the background and headdress. The paint layer had developed instability in the hands, and fairly extensive but accurate dots of retouching addressing this are visible under ultraviolet light. There are a few other retouches in the neck, chin and cheek on the left side of the head. There are a few tiny dots in the grey background in the center left. The retouches in the hand are very well handled, and the remainder of the work is generally in good condition
"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

One of the first works by Edgard Maxence to enter an American collection, Reverie has been prominently displayed in the main lounge of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association for nearly a century. Purchased directly from the Carnegie Institute International exhibition in 1925, the painting was met with praise during its time at the Institute and at the other American museums such as the City Art Museum of Saint Louis, where it traveled the following year. A journalist in St. Louis observed, "Edgard Maxence has taken a type of Northern beauty from his homeland. Excellent craftsmanship marks the painting of the thoughtful, mystic face of the young girl in her curious, Old-World garments" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 102).

Edgard Maxence is considered to be one of the great French symbolist painters. In 1891, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and shortly after joined the atelier of Elie Delaunay. However, it was his time as Gustave Moreau's student that was most formative, and he remained with his teacher until 1896. A native of Nantes, Maxence was always faithful to Brittany and throughout his career he found inspiration in Breton legends and customs. He was also drawn to the Catholic faith of his home region and closely studied liturgical costumes, church interiors, and the traditional dress of peasant churchgoers. Reverie is an exceptional example of the symbolist religious paintings completed by Maxence just before and directly after World War I. The works in this cycle usually feature a single female figure in a church interior praying or reading a devotional book. Elements of the present composition can be found in other works of the period: the figure’s reflective, downward gaze; the medieval-style black headdress; the gold choir screen, based on the example in the Basilique Saint-Nicolas in Nantes; and finally the "missel," a liturgical book for the celebration of Mass, which is based on the one still in the Maxence family collection today. The present sitter resembles Maxence’s daughter Juliette (b. 1898) who, along with her younger sister Marie-Thérèse (b. 1905), was often the model for these religious paintings. Though clearly rooted in nineteenth-century Brittany tradition, Reverie also possesses a timeless quality and approaches more universal themes of faith, piety, and the mystic qualities of prayer and reflection.

We would like to thank Monsieur Cyrille Sciama for kindly contributing to this catalogue note.