Ary Scheffer

Portrait of René, Cécile and Louise Franchomme

Lot Closed

January 30, 05:54 PM GMT


7,000 - 10,000 USD

Lot Details


Ary Scheffer

Dordrecht 1795 - 1858 Argenteuil

Portrait of René, Cécile and Louise Franchomme

signed and inscribed center right: Ary Scheffer/à son ami/Franchomme 

oil on canvas

canvas: 29 3/4 by 24 1/2 in.; 75.5 by 62.2 cm.

framed: 42 1/2 by 37 3/8 in.; 107.9 by 94.9 cm.

We would like to thank Leo Ewals for providing additional catalogue information.

Auguste Franchomme (1808-1884);
Thence by descent.
M. Kolb, Ary Scheffer et son temps 1795-1858, Paris, 1937, p. 486;
L. Ewals, Ary Scheffer, sa vie et son oeuvre, Nimègue, 1987, p. 389;
L. S. Marcus, “Inspiring the Voice Within,” Eye to I:  3,000 Years of Portraits, exhibition catalogue, Katonah Museum of Art, New York, 27 October 2013 - 16 February 2014, p. 76, reproduced.
Katonah, New York, Katonah Museum of Art, Eye to I:  3,000 Years of Portraits, 27 October 2013 - 16 February 2014.

Ary Scheffer was celebrated for his works inspired by literature, religious subjects, as well as captivating portraits of the early nineteenth century’s notable figures. The present group portrait depicts the children of the famous nineteenth century cellist and composer Auguste-Joseph Franchomme (1808-1884): Cécile (1838-1903), René (1841-1860) and Louise (1844-1873). According to a Franchomme descendant the portrait was likely painted circa 1850-1 as a gift from Scheffer to the then-grieving cellist, whose wife died in January 1850 at the young age of 35. 

Scheffer was Franchomme’s neighbor and friend, and took an interest in René’s talent, introducing him to members of his circle. As a result, René learned composition under the direction of famed French composer Charles Gounod. In the present work, René is aptly shown holding the “Duport” cello, bought by his father from the son of Jean-Pierre Duport, Napoleon’s favorite cellist, in 1843 for the then-record price of 22,000 francs. At the age of 18, René won first prize playing the “Duport” cello at the Paris Conservatoire, but died tragically several months later of pneumonia. 

Built in 1771 by Antonio Stradivari, the “Duport” cello remains one of the most important instruments surviving today, and was played by the legendary cellist Mstislav Rostoropvich from 1974 to 2007. Its visible dent is said to be the result of Napoleon’s rough handling of it when he attempted to play it himself.2 Following Duport’s technique and using his instrument, Franchomme advanced his elegant, light, and smooth bow technique. Franchomme became close friends with Felix Mendelssohn and Frédéric Chopin, with whom he would collaborate.

1 See: M. Kolb, pp. 256-7.

2 See: T. Faber, Stradivarius: Five Violins, One Cello and a Genius, New York 2004; W. H. Hill, A. F. Hill, and A. E. Hill, Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work 1644-1737, London 1909, p. 137.