View full screen - View 1 of Lot 18. ALEXANDRE CABANEL | DESDÉMONE.


Property from a Private Collection, Japan



Property from a Private Collection, Japan



1823 - 1889


signed Alex Cabanel and dated 1871 (upper left)

oil on canvas

canvas: 28⅞ by 23¼ in.; 73.5 by 59 cm

framed: 42 by 36¼ in.; 106.7 by 92 cm

The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.:

This work has not been recently restored, but it is in good condition. The paint layer is slightly dirty. There is a small repair at the bottom of the forearm in the lower center, which remains quite visible despite some retouching. There is a small scratch in the forehead, which is also visible to the naked eye. Slight canvas texture has developed in the shadowed forearm in the lower right and a few other spots. The work would benefit notably if properly cleaned, retouched and varnished.

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.

M. J. Hobart Warren, Hoosac Falls, New York, circa 1880 (by?, circa 1880)

Hariette Mott Warren (by descent from the above, her husband, until 1913)

Sale: Morgan, Paris, 1886

Sale: Christie’s, New York, February 23, 1989, lot 117, illustrated (as An Arab Beauty)

The Aldine, The Art Journal of America, 1874, illustrated

Edward Strahan, ed., The Art Treasures of America, Philadelphia, [1879-1882], facsimile edition, 1977, vol. III, p. 124, illustrated following p. 118

Alice Meynell, "Alexander Cabanel", Magazine of the Arts, no. 9, May 1886, p. 273, illustrated

Clarence Cook, Art and Artists of Our Time, New York, 1888, vol. 1, p. 74, illustrated

Georges Lafenestre, "Alexandre Cabanel", Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd, vol. 1, April 1, 1889, p. 278

Inventaire Armand, 1895, no. 10333, illustrated and titled Étude de jeune feme pleurant

Jean Nougaret, "Alexandre Cabanel. Sa vie, son œuvre, essai de catalogue", dissertation, Montpellier, 1962, no. 207, p. 125

Jean Nougaret, "Catalogue sommaire de l'oeuvre peint d'Alexandre Cabanel," Alexandre Cabanel 1823-1889: La tradition du beau, Sylvain Amic and Michel Hilaire, eds., exh. cat., Musée Fabre, Paris; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, 2010, p. 464, no. 268

Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Floating Images of Women in Art History from the Birth of Feminism Toward the Dissolution of Gender, July 20-September 28, 1997, no. 6, titled Une beauté arabe and illustrated in the catalogue

In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, Desdemona remains faithful to her husband Othello, only to be smothered by him for a supposed adultery. As with many Shakespearean heroines, Desdemona’s beauty, loyalty and untimely end made her a symbol of honor and love and a favored subject of artists such as Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Chassériau and Alexandre Cabanel, who was celebrated for his vivid scenes from literature and history. Desdemona was further immortalized by the great stage actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Ellen Terry. 

The first owner of Desdémone was Mr. J. Hobart Warren of Troy, New York. In The Art Treasures of America, Edward Strahan described Warren’s “small and choice collection” and that the present work was “a tender treatment of a gentle listener, who gives her tears and her soul” to her story (Strahan, p. 124). Warren also owned Cabanel’s The Florentine Poet, that was bequeathed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, upon the death of his wife, Henriette Mott Warren, in 1923.