WILLIAM BOUGUEREAU | LA GRAPPE DE RAISIN (PREMIÈRE RÉDUCTION)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NORTHEASTERN COLLECTION
1825 - 1905
LA GRAPPE DE RAISIN (PREMIÈRE RÉDUCTION)
oil on canvas
canvas: 23 by 17⅞ in.; 58.4 by 41.5 cm
framed: 29⅛ by 23⅞ in.; 74 by 60.5 cm
The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.:
This work may be more or less clean, but the varnish is very uneven. The canvas has an old European lining, which is still nicely stabilizing the paint layer.
The paint layer in the lighter colors of the mother and child seems to be in very good state. Some retouching is visible in the darker colors under ultraviolet light. The thick and uneven varnish reads very strongly under ultraviolet light, which may not allow for all of the retouches to be identified.
This is undoubtedly a work of good quality by the artist. Although cleaning may reveal further retouching, proper restoration would certainly make notable improvements.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
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Goupil & Cie., Paris, no. 3680 (acquired directly from the artist, October 1868)
M. Wallis, London (acquired from the above, May 1870)
Private Collection, Pennsylvania, circa 1960
Private Collection (by descent from the above and until 2009)
Acquired from the above
Bouguereau's accounts, as Italienne aux raisins (première réduction)
Mark Steven Walker, "William 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. 109, no. 1868/08A, illustrated; and in the revised 2014 edition, p. 109, no. 1868/08A, illustrated
In La grappe de raisin (première réduction), William Bouguereau presents a vision of a young mother and child in a rustic home. Using a subtle interplay of light and shadow, the artist directs the viewer’s eye to the child who, enthralled by the bunch of grapes dangling above, playfully reaches for them.
La grappe de raisin (première réduction) was painted in the late 1860s, at a moment when Bouguereau’s life was as joyful as the young family he depicts. Personally, his newly built Paris home was nearing completion and his wife Nellie was pregnant with their son, Paul, which helped soothe the family’s sorrow at the death of his daughter, Jeanne Léontine. Having worked with the influential art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, future champion of the Impressionists, throughout the 1850s and early 1860s, Bouguereau signed a contract with the dealer Adolphe Goupil in 1866, a relationship that would last until the artist’s death. Goupil was instrumental in steering Bouguereau away from the large-scale dramatic religious and Neoclassical scenes he painted early in his career and towards gently moralizing genre works which held greater public appeal. As more people relocated to industrialized cities, 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. As Fronia Wissman writes: “City dwellers, from the time of Theocritus in the early third century B.C., have viewed people living in the country with a mixture of alarm and envy. In the pastoral tradition the peasant was seen to possess a simple and honest character, living an equally simple life, in tune with nature and apart from… artifice” (Fronia E. Wissman, Bouguereau, Petaluma, California, 1996, p. 46). As a consequence, by the end of the 1860s Bouguereau found enormous success, reaping great financial benefits and finding demand for his works, especially in America, often outweighed his supply.
The present lot is a réduction of the larger La grappe de raisin (Private Collection; sold, Sotheby’s, New York May 7, 1998 for $1,020,000). Beginning in 1859, Bouguereau had begun to paint réductions of major paintings to facilitate the production of engravings. Because the original paintings upon which these engravings were based tended to be quite large, réductions, typically one half or one third of the original’s size, were less cumbersome for engravers such as Victor Thirion, who made an engraving of La grappe de raisin which was published by Goupil on October 1, 1870. Despite the reduced size, these works were faithful copies of the original compositions. While réductions were occasionally painted in collaboration with his studio, the artist’s hand is evident in the masterful treatment of faces, hands, and drapery.