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    Sale 2175

    Old Masters and 19th Century Art

    4 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 45

    Attributed to Philippe de Champaigne (Brussels 1602-1674 Paris)

    Portrait of an Astronomer, traditionally identified as René Descartes

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    This lot is offered without a reserve

    Attributed to Philippe de Champaigne (Brussels 1602-1674 Paris)
    Portrait of an Astronomer, traditionally identified as René Descartes
    oil on canvas
    36¼ x 29 in. (92 x 73.5 cm.)


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    In the early nineteenth century, William Buchanan noted in the collection of a Citoyen Robit a portrait by Philippe de Champaigne of a man identified as the philosopher and mathematician René Descartes. A portrait said to depict the same sitter was offered at Christie's sale of the Earl of Bessborough's collection (5-7 February 1801, lot 35; 10-11 July 1850, lot 145). Bernard Dorival (op. cit.) mistakenly suggests that the Bessborough picture may have been identical with the present painting, which is known to have been at Woburn Abbey by 1834.

    A copy of the present portrait, measuring 67 x 54 cm., was last recorded at Christie's London (20 February 1986, lot 44, as 'Follower of Philippe de Champaigne'). Alternative attributions to either Claude Lefebvre or Laurent Fauchier have been suggested.

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.


    Provenance

    John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (1766-1839), Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, by 1834, and by descent to
    Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford; Christie's, London, 19 January 1951, lot 87, as 'Philippe de Champaigne'.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THIS LOT IS SOLD WITHOUT RESERVE


    Literature

    Descriptive catalogue of the portraits in the collection of John, Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey, London, 1834, CLXXV, p. 124.
    G. Scharf, A descriptive and historical catalogue of the collection of pictures at Woburn Abbey, London, 1890, pp. 86-7, no. 126, as 'Philippe de Champaigne'.
    B. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne, 1602-1674, Paris, 1976, I, pp. 129-30, 182; and II, pp. 166-7, no. 339, fig. 339, as 'Philippe de Champaigne'.