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    Sale 11932


    13 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 29

    Jean-Frédéric Schall (Strasbourg 1752-1825 Paris)

    The Hives of Cupids

    Price Realised  


    Jean-Frédéric Schall (Strasbourg 1752-1825 Paris)
    The Hives of Cupids
    signed and dated 'Schah Lan. 10.' (lower right, on the plinth)
    oil on canvas
    60 7/8 x 40¼ in. ( 154.6 x 102.2 cm.)

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    This delightful painting shows a flock of cupids buzzing forth from their hives to assail a maiden gathering flowers in a lush garden replete with classical accents, including a circular temple. Relentless in their attack, the winged culprits tug at her tunic and sashes as they prick her with arrows. Fending them off proves impossible for the young woman, whose statuesque body echoes the presiding marble figure of Flora. The basket of colorful blooms the maiden had gathered has fallen to the ground, thus symbolizing her surrender to the amorini’s onslaught.

    The Hives of Cupids was originally part of a group of four paintings representing scenes of amorini mischievously interacting with young women in Grecian attire. The ensemble is traditionally thought to have been commissioned from Schall by the Swiss banker Jean Frédéric Perregaux (1744-1808) to decorate his Parisian townhouse (A. Girodie, op. cit., pp. 24-25). The Russian industrialist and distinguished patron of the arts, Count Anatole Nikolaievich Demidoff, was the first documented owner of Schall’s set, which is listed in a sale of the Count’s collection that was held in Paris on February 26, 1870. The other canvases represent: Cupids Resting (private collection), The Cupids’ Entrapment (with Didier Aaron, New York, 1986) and The Cupids Attack (Untraced). The Hives of Cupids is the only dated painting in the series: “l’an 10,” the tenth year in the Revolutionary calendar (September 1801-August 1802), is inscribed on the marble plinth in the right foreground along with the artist’s name.

    As evidenced by the subtly erotic yet playful nature of the present composition, Schall is never lewd in his treatment of amorous subject matter. The artist continued to paint sexually charged scenes and managed to find clients for them throughout the Revolution, the ideals of which he championed. Even the short-lived period of prudishness fostered by Robespierre and his acolytes and the turmoil of the Terror did not spell financial disaster for Schall. In fact, he and his family were given lodgings in the Louvre; nevertheless, the pragmatic artist produced several antimonarchist compositions during this period.


    Possibly commissioned, along with the three other paintings in the set, by the banker Jean Frédéric Perregaux (1744-1808) for his Paris residence, the Hôtel Guimard, on the rue de la Chaussée d’Antin.
    Prince Anatole Nicolaevich Demidoff (1812-1870), Russia, France and Tuscany; his sale, Paris, 26 Boulevard des Italiens, Collections de San Donato: Deuxième Vente: Tableaux de l’école française du dix-huitième siècle et marbres, 26 February 1870, lot 128, where acquired (according to the annotated copy of the Demidoff sale catalogue at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris) by
    Hippolyte Charles Napoléon Mortier de Trévise, 3 Duc de Trévise (1835-1892), Paris.
    Count Pavel Paviovich Demidoff, 2nd Prince of San Donato (1839-1885), Villa San Donato, Polverosa, and, subsequently, Villa Demidoff, Pratolino; his sale, Florence, Palais San Donato, 15 March-10 April 1880, lots 776-777.
    William Renton; by inheritance to James Hall Renton (d. 1895), London, and Hove, Brighton, Sussex; his sale (†), Christie's, London, 30 April 1898, lots 108-109, by the following.
    with Agnew's, London.
    with Leger Galleries, London, by 1951.
    Private collection, Europe.
    Anonymous sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 29 March 2013, lot 1, where acquired by the following.
    Private collection.


    T. Gautier, “Les collections du Prince Anatole Demidoff", L’Illustration, LV, no. 1407, 12 February 1870, p. 126; no. 1408, 19 February 1870, pp. 145 and 147, illustrated (woodcut, based on a drawing by Piridon; after “La nichée des amours”).
    P. Leroi [Paul Gauchez], “Le Palais de San Donato et ses collections,” L’Art, XX, 1880, p. 141.
    A. Girodie, Un peintre de Tetes galantes: Jean-Frédéric Schall (Strasbourg 1752-Paris 1825), Strasbourg, 1927, pp. 5, 6, 24-26; 42, note 3.
    A. Girodie, “Schall, Frédéric,” in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, ed. by U. Thieme and F. Becker, XXIX (ed. by H. Voilmer), Leipzig, 1935, p. 572.
    Monaco, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Tableaux anciens, March 5, 1984, n.p., cited under entry for lot 1083.
    Around 1800: French Paintings and Drawings: 1780-1820, exhibition catalogue, Didier Aaron, New York, 1986, under no. 36.
    S. Duffy, 'Eighteenth-Century French Paintings', Anatole Demidoff: Prince of San Donato (1812-70), London, 1994, p. 58.