FRANÇOIS-XAVIER FABRE | PORTRAIT OF MARQUIS LUIGI GRIMALDI DELLA PIETRA; PORTRAIT OF MARQUISE FANNY GRIMALDI
Montpellier 1766 - 1837 Montpellier
PORTRAIT OF MARQUIS LUIGI GRIMALDI DELLA PIETRA;
PORTRAIT OF MARQUISE FANNY GRIMALDI
portrait of the Marquis signed and dated lower left: F.X.F. 1804;
portrait of the Marquise signed and dated, lower right: F.X.F. f./1804
a pair, both oil on canvas
each canvas: 31½ by 19¾ in.; 80 by 50 cm.
each framed: 33 by 26 in.; 83.8 by 66 cm.
The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, email@example.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
The portrait of the Marquise has been restored, and it is recommended that it be hung in its current condition. When viewed from the reverse, the elaborate inscription of the original canvas is still clearly visible. The tacking edges have been reinforced, but the canvas is clearly unlined.
There have been some repairs made to a diagonal scratch in the neck and right side of the standing figure's upper chest, a couple of other losses in her waist, a loss in the tree trunk in the lower left, and a circuitous break to the canvas in the upper right running across the sky and down the right side into the trees. There is also restoration to a 3 by 3 inch loss with an associated damage above in the lower center in the woman's shawl and in the landscape in the trees to the right of her knees. All of these restorations are isolated.
The work is clearly not abraded. Although the varnish and perhaps the texture could be slightly improved, the restoration is otherwise quite acceptable.
In the portrait of the Marquis, the paint layer is clearly un-abraded. It has received restorations in the center of the composition. There are some structural damages and associated paint losses which have been repaired in the belly of the horse, through the waist and chest of the figure and into the marble plinth on the left.
The work would improve noticeably if the lining and the retouches were reexamined.
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 provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour 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 because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Don Luigi Grimaldi, Monaco;
Schoëll collection, Saverne (?), 1878;
Anonymous sale ("Private Collection, Germany"), Monaco, Christie's, 4 December 1993, lot 49;
There acquired by the present owner.
A. Benoit, "M. de Birkenwald," in Revue d'Alsace, Nouvelle série, VIII, 1878, Colmar, pp. 332-3;
L. Pellicer, Le peintre François-Xavier Fabre 1766-1837, unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Paris IV, Sorbonne 1982, III, p. 891;
R. Metzker, “Birkenwald,” in Nouveau Dictionnaire de biographie alsacienne, Fédération des sociétés d’histoiree d’archéologique d’Alsace, 1983;
L. Pellicer, François-Xavier Fabre, exhibition catalogue, Spoleto 1988, p. 11 (portrait of the Marquise only, as lost);
L. Pellicer, “François-Xavier Fabre in his Museum,” in Apollo Magazine, Vol. CXXIX, no. 323, January 1989, p. 17;
Meylan, 1993, p. 24;
F. Braesch and G. Loth, Amours et Passions en Alsace, Sarreguemines 1995, p. 91-92, cat. no. 11;
M. Hilaire, “Pour Fabre, peintre, collectionneur, donateur,” in La Rencontre, n. 50, IV
trimester, 1999, p. 35;
L. Pellicer, “Il a choisi Florence,” in Au-delà du Maître;
Girodet et l’atelier de David, exhibition catalogue, Montargis 2005, p. 85, note 47;
L. Pellicer and M. Hilaire, François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837) de Florence à Montpellier, exhibition catalogue, Montpellier 2007-2008, pp. 272-75, cat. nos. nos. 123-124, reproduced in color;
To be included in Dr. Laure Pellicer's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Fabre's work.
Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., Nassau County Museum of Art, Faces and Figures, 21 September 1997 - 4 January 1998;
Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., Nassau County Museum of Art, Art and Fashion: From Marie Antoinette to Jacqueline Kennedy, 26 May -13 August 2006 (Marquise only);
Montpellier, Musée Fabre, François-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837) de Florence à Montpellier, 13 November 2007 – 2 June 2008, nos. 123-124.
Pietro Bettelini, 1806.
Giovanni Battista Grimaldi, elder brother of Don Luigi Grimaldi and husband of Fanny Grimaldi, died in Paris on 4 February 1803, leaving to his brother the responsibility of caring for his bride of only eight months, Fanny Grimaldi, née Baronne von Bürkenwald. Soon thereafter, Don Luigi and his sister-in-law fell in love and were engaged to be married, but in a tragic turn of fate, she too fell fatally ill and died on 6 February 1804, almost one year to the day after her husband. Although the circumstances surrounding her death have never been securely documented, Benoit asserted as early as 1878 that Fanny, "victime de sa beauté," was poisoned by her doctor, whose amorous advances she had rejected.1 The Countess of Albany wrote about Fanny's untimely death to a friend in Vienna: "je vois tous les jours mourir des jeunes personnes qui ne demanderaient qu'à vivre".2
After his fiancée's untimely death, Don Luigi, an amateur musical composer who was also well-known in Florentine literary circles, commissioned Fabre to paint her posthumous portrait, in which she appears standing between life and death, drawn to the tomb of her husband Giovanni Battista on the right, while a hovering figure of Cupid implores her to return to this world, as symbolized by the luminous landscape on the left.3 The inscription below Bettelini’s 1806 engraving after this painting reads: "Cupidon conjugis ante diem rapti nova cura/ Fanniam desiderio tabecsentem sollicitat" (sic). (Cupid urges Fanny, who wastes away with sorrow for her husband prematurely wrenched from life, to other thoughts.) Quite surprisingly, the portrait of the Marquise remained unrecorded for some time, known only through the engraving by Pietro Bettelini. The portrait of the Marquis, which shows him in sorrow and leaning on his fiancée's tomb, is also an important work within Fabre's oeuvre. Dr. Laure Pellicer notes that the portraits are closely related in style to Fabre's Portrait of the Countess Skotnicka of 1807 (Cracow, National Museum) and to his Portrait of the Marquise de Pine of 1803 (Rome, private collection).4
1. Benoit also hypothesized that Fabre himself may have harbored a secret passion for the pretty young widow, op. cit., p. 333.
2. trans: "Everyday I see young people die would be eager to live". L. Pélissier, Lettres inédits de la Comtesse d'Albany à ses amis de Vienne, Deuxiéme série 1802-1809, Toulouse, 1912, p. 125.
3. On the open tomb to the right is the inscription: “GIOV. BAT. GRIMALDI/DELLA PIETRA/MDCCCIII”
4. Pellicer, op. cit., 2008, p. 275