The European Art Sale

The European Art Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 424. Releasing Butterflies.

Emile Villa

Releasing Butterflies

Lot Closed

October 25, 02:24 PM GMT


20,000 - 30,000 USD

Lot Details


Emile Villa


1836 - 1936

Releasing Butterflies

signed E Villa (lower right)

oil on canvas

canvas: 46 by 33 in.; 116.8 by 83.8 cm

framed: 36 by 43½ in.; 91.4 by 110.4 cm

Martha James, Chicago, Illinois
Thence by descent to the present owner
A pupil of Charles Gleyre and Auguste Glaize, Villa established himself as a painter of beautiful women in 18th century dress, staged in opulent period interiors. The second half of the 19th century saw a nostalgic reverence for the previous century that informed the time's literature and art, a trend Emile Villa followed to great acclaim. 

The sitter of the present painting is wearing an Empire-style dress, lavishly decorated with lace and ribbons, highlighting the artist's skill in the treatment of silks and transparent fabrics, as exemplified in the diaphanous butterfly net and the lace trim lining the décolletage and cap sleeves. The young woman is elegantly opening the box to release the entrapped butterflies, in a gesture that underscores the innocent nature of her pastime and the beauty of her character.