PIERRE-NOLASQUE BERGERET | PORTRAIT OF A MAN IN A TURBAN, THREE-QUARTER PROFILE
Property from W.M. Brady & Company, New York
Bordeaux 1782 - 1863 Paris
PORTRAIT OF A MAN IN A TURBAN, THREE-QUARTER PROFILE
signed with monogram and dated, lower right: janvier 1813/B.
oil on canvas
unframed: 23¼ x 19⅛ in.; 59 x 48.5 cm.
framed: 30 x 25 1/2 in.; 76.2 x 64.8 cm.
The canvas has been relatively recent relined and is stable on its stretcher. The portrait image reads strongly beneath clear varnish. Some of the hair and costume are thinly painted and the rough weave of the canvas shows through, but this is due to the artist’s style and the paint surface is stable. Under UV inspection, retouching is visible to address a small repair in the red part of the turban and another one in the shadow on the man’s collar. Otherwise scattered small retouches are visible throughout but are finely applied and concentrated in the thinner areas like the lower right costume and the background. The painting is in good condition and can hang in its current state. Offered in a simply carved giltwood frame.
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.
Mr. and Mrs. Thierry de Chirée, Avignon;
By whom sold, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Aguttes, 30 March 2011, lot 373;
"The powerful presence of this gentleman is so moving it's as if you can feel him breathing. This is no quick oil sketch; it captures the sitter's character and mood so evocatively one cannot look away."
This striking oil-sketch of an Middle Eastern man stands in the tradition of early nineteenth-century French portraiture of Oriental or exotic sitters, which became popular in the wake of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign of 1798-1801. When the Armée d’Orient returned from the Middle East to France, many local men and fighters followed. Famously, Bergeret’s contemporary and friend Girodet made about a dozen large-scale head studies of these men, including the Portrait of an Oriental in the Musée Calvet at Avignon (fig. 1). The Avignon picture, undated and nearly identical in size, shows the same sitter as our painting from a slightly different angle. He could be either a Middle Eastern man living in France or a model posing in that role. His remarkable features are close to those of another celebrated portrait by Girodet, Mordecai (1824, private collection), known until its recent rediscovery only from a lithograph.
In both our portrait and in Girodet’s paintings the face and head of the sitter occupy almost the entire picture plane and thus convey a sense of great monumentality. In style and handling of the brush, too, there are strong parallels with Girodet, most obvious in the Avignon Portrait of an Oriental, which must have been executed at the same time as ours. The type and colors of the turban, including the way it is tied, are identical in both paintings. Both portraits are relatively loosely painted, predominantly with earth colors while strong colors are used only sparingly. A Self-Portrait by Bergeret (private collection, Paris), dating from the first decade of the century, reveals an equally sketchy style and color scheme.1
At the beginning of the 19th century, Bergeret and Girodet both lived and worked in the Couvent des Capucines, an abandoned convent then located in what is today’s Place Vendôme. Prior to its demolition in 1806, the convent’s cells accommodated numerous young artists, including Ingres and the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, who were close friends and ran a sort of academy dedicated to the study of Italian Renaissance art. Over a period of nearly fifty years, from 1806 to 1853, Bergeret exhibited paintings of troubadour and Orientalist subjects at the Paris Salons.
1. Oil on canvas, 63 x 53 cm; formerly with Galerie Michel Descours, Paris.