The European Art Sale

The European Art Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 417. Portait des deux soeurs.

Alexandre Cabanel

Portait des deux soeurs

Lot Closed

October 25, 02:17 PM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 USD

Lot Details


Alexandre Cabanel


1823 - 1889

Portait des deux soeurs 

signed and dated, Alex. Cabanel 1871 (upper left)

oil on canvas

canvas: 28¾ by 23¼ in.; 73 by 59 cm

framed: 41 by 36¼ in.; 104.1 by 92 cm

Collection of the Duke of Seltre
Sale: Christie's, London, 23 June, 1989, lot 122 
Sale: Eric Pillon Encheres, Versailles, 10 November, 1991, lot 35
Paris trade, around 1996
Private collection, United States
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Georges Lafenestre, "Alexandre Cabanel," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3e période, t. 1 (1er Avril 1889), p. 277
Michel Hilaire and Sylvain Amic, Alexandre Cabanel 1823-1889: La tradition du beau. Paris, 2010, no. 275, p. 464, illustrated
Entering the École des Beaux-Arts at the age of seventeen, Alexandre Cabanel achieved early success and became one of the most influential Academic artists of the nineteenth century, along with William Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme. After winning the Prix de Rome in 1845, he exhibited regularly at the annual state-sponsored Salon. His 1863 submission, La naissance de Vénus (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), garnered critical acclaim and international recognition, and has since become an icon of nineteenth-century painting. In the years that followed, Cabanel was frequently elected to the Salon jury and taught many of the period’s most celebrated artists, including Jules Bastien-Lepage, Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Henri Le Sidaner and Aristide Maillol as a professor at the École. 

Cabanel was also well known as a portraitist and in the 1870s and 1880s was the painter of choice for high society patrons, particularly women, who desired an aristocratic image to match their wealth. The two elegantly dressed young girls in this tender double portrait have been identified as either the Sutton or Barbey sisters.1

1. "Mlles Barbey" are listed as sitters for a portrait by Cabanel in Georges Lafenestre, "Alexandre Cabanel," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3e période, t. 1 (1er Avril 1889), p. 277. See also Michel Hilaire and Sylvain Amic, Alexandre Cabanel 1823-1889: La tradition du beau. Paris, 2010, no. 275, p. 464 for possible identification as Sutton sisters.