• Cabinet d'un Amateur Européen auction at Christies

    Sale 7822

    Cabinet d'un Amateur Européen

    9 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 400

    Jean-Baptiste Pater (French, 1695-1736)

    Fête champêtre with a musician and a statue of Venus behind; and Fête champêtre with bathers in front of a fountain


    Jean-Baptiste Pater (French, 1695-1736)
    Fête champêtre with a musician and a statue of Venus behind; and Fête champêtre with bathers in front of a fountain
    oil on canvas
    20 x 24 in. (50.5 x 61 cm.)
    a pair (2)

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    A pupil of Watteau for a brief but formative period of his early career, Pater was received into the French Académie in 1728 as a 'painter of modern subjects', as the most worthy painter to continue the tradition of fêtes galantes that his celebrated master had invented.

    The provenance of this charming pair of pictures can be traced to Martin Colnaghi, grandson of the celebrated dealer and art advisor Paul Colnaghi (1751-1833), founder of Colnaghi's, one of the oldest surviving and most storied art dealerships in London, and indeed in the world. Although Martin Colnaghi continued the dealership activities of his father and grandfather, it seems that the present works formed part of his private collection. As a picture dealer and a collector, Martin Colnaghi's primary interest was in Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, precisely of the taste which inspired Pater and his eighteenth-century patrons. Colnaghi would doubtless have enjoyed the associations between his intimate French 'cabinet pictures' and the earlier Netherlandish pictures that they were painted to emulate and respond to. A key early benefactor of the National Gallery, London, Colnaghi lent five pictures to that institution, and bequeathed it £75,000 in his will, funds which were used to buy 13 paintings, including works by Cézanne and Delacroix.

    The pictures subsequently belonged to the American banker John Pierpont Morgan, one of the outstanding American collectors of the Gilded Age. Morgan began collecting in 1900, and by the time of his death in 1913 had amassed a collection valued at an estimated $160,000,000, and considered by some contemporaries to be the best in the world. His motivation was always to acquire 'only the most highly prized works of all types, rather than a comprehensive selection of any one area' (A. Deirdre Robson, 'Morgan, J(ohn) Pierpont', in The Grove Dictionary of Art); to this end he would sometimes buy entire collections en bloc, many of which are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Martin Colnaghi (1821-1908), London.
    with T. Agnew & Sons, London, from whom purchased circa 1890 by
    Rodolphe Kann, Paris.
    J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), Dover House, London, by 1907 (according to labels on the reverse of both paintings).
    Mildred Allen, New York, and thence by descent to
    Mrs. Charles Allen, Jr.; Sotheby's, New York, 30 January 1998, lot 93, where acquired by the present owner.


    W. Roberts, Pictures in the Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan at Princes Gate and Dover House, London: Dutch and Flemish, French, Italian, Spanish, 1907 (both illustrated).
    F. Ingersoll-Smouse, Pater, 1928, p. 63, nos. 323 and 325, figs. 95-6.