‘Le Petit Mathématicien’
30,000 - 50,000 GBP
Property from a Private Collection, Japan
Tournus 1725 - 1805 Paris
‘Le Petit Mathématicien’
oil on canvas
unframed: 46.2 x 38.3 cm.; 18¼ x 15⅛ in.
framed: 84 x 76 cm.; 33 x 29⅞ in.
The canvas is lined, the paint surface is clean and the varnish is clear and even. There is quite a distinct network of craquelure visible throughout. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals some fine lines of retouching to disguise the appearance of some of this craquelure, largely in the boy's hair and also in his eyes. There is some broader retouching to the background, particularly in the upper right corner and along the lower margin. The painting presents well in its current state and is in overall good condition.
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.
Greuze's Le Petit Mathématicien appears to have been one of his most popular compositions, attested to by several versions and numerous copies. The prototype is assumed to be the painting in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, which is presumed to have come from the collection of Duclos-Dufresnoy, Greuze's notary and one of his most important patrons.1
The present work follows the Montpellier painting closely. When last on the market it was examined by the late Edgar Munhall, who endorsed the attribution to Greuze, and dated the painting to the 1780s, a time when the artist's precarious finances compelled him to produce numerous bust-length genre paintings with a gently moralising tone. The present canvas is an exemplar of Greuze's ability to synthesise portraiture with genre painting, along with his characteristic sympathy for the depiction of children.
J. Martin (see Literature) lists the Demidoff and Yousoupoff collections as provenance for two separate versions of this subject by Greuze. However, the present picture is traditionally believed to have been part of both collections. A version was in a sale on 22 January 1868, lot 20 (listed with dimensions of 46 x 38 cm.), but if the information from the San Donato sale catalogue of 1870 is accurate, that painting cannot be one and the same as the present work, since the San Donato entry records the painting as having been inherited from the collection of Nicolas Demidoff.