18
18
Pierre-Denis Martin dit Le jeune ou des Gobelins
A PAIR OF VIEWS SHOWING CHÂTEAU DE PONTCHARTRAIN WITH ITS GARDENS DESIGNED BY ANDRÉ LE NÔTRE
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT
18
Pierre-Denis Martin dit Le jeune ou des Gobelins
A PAIR OF VIEWS SHOWING CHÂTEAU DE PONTCHARTRAIN WITH ITS GARDENS DESIGNED BY ANDRÉ LE NÔTRE
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Tableaux Dessins Sculptures 1300-1900

|
Paris

Pierre-Denis Martin dit Le jeune ou des Gobelins
PARIS VERS 1663 - 1742
A PAIR OF VIEWS SHOWING CHÂTEAU DE PONTCHARTRAIN WITH ITS GARDENS DESIGNED BY ANDRÉ LE NÔTRE
Quantity: 2
A pair, both oil on canvas
144,5 x 205,5 cm and 144,5 x 203 cm ; 56 7/8 by 80 7/8  in. and 56 7/8 by 80 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Louis II Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain (1643-1727);
Château de Pontchartrain, Jouars-Pontchartrain.

Literature

D. Brouzet, "Jean-Baptiste et Pierre-Denis Martin, peintres des Maisons royales", L'Estampille L'Objet d'Art, no. 328, October 1998, quoted p. 39; 
C. de Bourgoing, Le Nôtre, jardins connus et méconnus, Paris 2013, p. 90, repr. pp. 92-93 and on cover (as Adam-François van der Meulen); 
F.-H. Hazlehurst, Des jardins d'illusions, Paris 2005, pp. 363-372.

Catalogue Note

In terms of their size and their quality, of their subject matter as much as of the major evidence that they represent for the history of the estate and the crucial role André Le Nôtre played therein, the two views of the château of Pontchartrain painted by Pierre-Denis Martin are important works, both historically and aesthetically speaking.

The château of Pontchartrain occupies the centre of the composition in both paintings. Likely commissioned by Louis I de Phélypeaux (1613-1685) from François Mansart (1598-1666) – although the role of the architect in its construction is disputed – it was erected between 1633 and 1662. Pierre-Denis Martin showcases its regular lines and restrained silhouette, typical of French classicism, by illuminating them with a ray of sunshine.

The château rises at the centre of vast gardens whose perspective seems to open out on a broad plain. Their execution was entrusted in 1693 to André Le Nôtre (1613-1700), making them one of his final projects and thus a summation of all of his know-how, his experience and the aesthetic that he had developed over the course of his career. An architect and garden designer, André Le Nôtre was trained in Mansart’s workshop. Charged thereafter with the transformations of the gardens of Versailles and the Tuileries, these colossal sites allowed him to establish and assert his personal style, which subsequently exerted a major influence on the field of garden design as we know it. In the foreground of the view from the West, the pond occupies a large place in the extension of the château, along the sides of which spread great expanses of lawn elegantly interspersed with paths. Cleverly considered by Le Nôtre, who achieved perfect mastery of the laws of optics, the plan of the garden is organised in terms of the château: by extending it, the pools allow an elongation of the perspective whilst maintaining the park’s human dimension.

The topographical character of these two works should be emphasised; Pierre-Denis Martin strove for a precise transcription of the gardener’s design of the perspectives. In the composition showing the château and its court of honour as well as in the one depicting the water feature, the artist enjoyed representing the estate as it must have appeared at the time with the most faithful exactitude, minutely describing each copse, each alley, each patch of trees.

Besides the many figures who embellish the two canvases and accentuate the monumentality of the site, Pierre-Denis Martin adorned the views of the château of Pontchartrain with a scene in the foreground reminiscent of those which populate the paintings of his master Adam Frans van der Meulen, recalling the time he spent in the latter’s workshop. The two principal riders, richly dressed, may well be, if the old sources are to be believed (Hazlehurst, op. cit., p. 365), Louis II Phélypeaux of Pontchartrain, who commissioned the gardens, accompanied by Le Nôtre himself. It is possible that the painting of the equestrian figures was entrusted to one of Pierre-Denis Martin’s collaborators, as was often the case with major commissions of this type.

Famous for his equestrian battle scenes, Pierre-Denis Martin subsequently collaborated with the prestigious Gobelins manufactory, earning him the nickname Martin des Gobelins, and later obtaining the title of Painter Ordinary to the King. Admired for his battle scenes, he distinguished himself especially through his views of royal palaces, of which those of Versailles1 and Marly2, both commissioned by the Princesse de Conti, merit particular mention.

These two important works constitute a rare and precious testimony to the probable appearance of the gardens of Pontchartrain at the moment of their creation, when they had just been developed by one of the most important French garden designers. Remodelled over the course of centuries, today nothing remains of them apart from plans or written descriptions. The Plan of the château and park of Pont-Chartrin, which is presented in the following lot, dates from the eighteenth century and allows us already to observe the rapid evolution.

1. View of the palace of Versailles from the Place d’Armes in 1722, Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (inv. 6523).
2. General view of the palace and pavilions of Marly, Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (inv. 6529).

Tableaux Dessins Sculptures 1300-1900

|
Paris