Le travail interrompu (réduction)
Property Collected by Mrs. Lois L. Fields
1825 - 1905
Le travail interrompu (réduction)
signed W-BOVGVEREAV (center left)
oil on canvas
canvas: 39 ½ by 24 in.; 100.3 by 60.9 cm.
framed: 47 ¼ by 31 ½ in.; 120 by 80 cm.
This condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. This work is in beautiful condition. The canvas has an old glue lining. The cracking is very slightly raised in the upper left, but the paint layer is stable. The painting is clean and varnished. Under ultraviolet light, retouches can be seen on the bridge of the woman's nose and in one spot in the eye on the left. A few cracks in the base of the spindle have been retouched. The work should be hung in its current state.
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.
Bouguereau’s essentially optimistic poeticism is evident in Le travail interrompu, where the theme of anticipation or occurrence of young love is apparent. A young woman in an ancient Greek setting, dressed in a white linen peplos, is suddenly interrupted in her yarn winding by the arrival of an unseen figure. She gazes over her shoulder towards the source of the disturbance while a playful cupid whispers in her ear while teasing it with a golden dart. The authenticity of the classicism of the scene is further heightened by the inclusion of a klismos chair and a mosaic floor.
The charming subject, possibly inspired by older renderings of Cupid and Psyche, such as Fragonard’s Sappho Inspired by Cupid, belonged to a genre that was immensely popular with the French and American public at the end of the 19th century. Bouguereau’s delicate technique and photographic-like realism, allowed him to elevate the otherwise ubiquitous subject matter to new heights of idealism.
Painted in 1891, Le travail interrompu is a réduction of a larger work presently in the collection of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Massachusetts. Bouguereau began work on the larger version in 1890 and immediately sold it on option to his agent Arthur Tooth & Sons, presumably because a long waiting list of clients awaited its turn to a masterpiece by the celebrated artist. Concomitantly, Bouguereau began work on the réduction, which he again sold on option to Arthur Tooth & Sons. Both paintings were received by the dealer in 1892 and immediately placed in prominent American collection. The réduction was probably purchased by renowned industrialist William Kissam Vanderbilt I and possibly sold again after his divorce from his wife Alva Erskine Smith in 1895 and subsequent move to France. His father, William H. Vanderbilt, had died in 1885 and could not have been the purchaser, as entered in records at the time.
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. 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. An engraving by Alfred Joseph Annedouche was issued in 1894 with the title Cupid's Whispers.