Details & Cataloguing

The Pohl-Ströher Collection of Portrait Miniatures Part II


Jean-Etienne Le Bel
FL. 1761
Fixé-sous-verre, gilt-metal frame;
signed verso: E. LeBel 1761
75 by 85 mm.
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Edouard Warneck, Paris;
his sale, Vienna, Leo Schidlof's Auction House, 18 November 1926, lot 32;
David David-Weill (d. 1952), until 1936;
with Wildenstein, Paris;
Sir Charles Clore (d. 1979), London, by 1964;
his executor's sale, London, Sotheby's, 10 November 1986, lot 27


London, 1961, no. 130;
Vienna,1965, lot 250;
London, 1968, no. 951, p. 154


Gillet, Jeannerat & Clouzot, 1957, no. 130, p. 218, illust.;
Schidlof, 1964, vol. I, p. 488, vol. II, p. 1012, no. 693, illust.

Catalogue Note

The signature on the backing fabric of this group portrait is identical to those found on the enamel decoration of two snuff boxes by Jean-Joseph Barrière dated respectively 1765–66 and 1768–69, formerly in the Thurn und Taxis collection (see Seelig 2007, nos 7 & 8). It is likely that the artist is the same Le Bel who, in 1774, exhibited ‘Un Œuf d’Autruche sur lequel est peint un Sujet de Carnival’ at the Academy of Saint Luc in Paris (Livret no. 63). In 1760 he had been granted a privilège du roi for this speciality work. His intercessor, M. de La Roche, noted: ‘ce garçon est sage et a du talent; le Roy a trové ses oeufs très jolyment peints’ (quoted Christian Baulez 2007, p. 249). Signed examples, painted on ostrich eggs supplied by the menagerie at Versailles, include one at the château de Versailles (inv. no. T 520 C) and another in the Detroit Institute of Arts (gift of Mr and Mrs Benson Ford, 60.62). While Le Bel was evidently a master of many techniques, his biographical identity remains tantalisingly obscure.

The Pohl-Ströher Collection of Portrait Miniatures Part II