• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12143

    19th Century European Art

    26 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 48

    Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815-1891)

    Study for Napoléon on horseback from Campagne de France, 1814

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815-1891)
    Study for Napoléon on horseback from Campagne de France, 1814
    signed with the artist's monogram (lower left)
    oil on panel
    7 7/8 x 6 1/8 in. (20 x 15.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1863.


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    Dr. Constance Hungerford believes that the model used for the figure of Napoléon in the present study is actually Meissonier himself. The artist strove for exacting naturalism in his paintings, researching the habits of his subjects and using period accessories whenever possible. A visitor to Meissonier’s home in 1862 observed the artist wearing a replica he had commissioned of Napoléon’s overcoat and sitting on a saddle over a wooden trestle to simulate a horse and sketching himself from a mirror. When another visitor remarked that the Emperor’s thighs appeared too large in an earlier version of the painting, Meissonier decided he would pose for the figure instead, because the artist had ‘exactly [Napoléon’s] thighs.’

    We are grateful to Dr. Constance Hungerford for confirming the authenticity of this painting.

    Provenance

    The artist.
    His estate sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 13-20 May, 1893, lot 50.
    with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London.
    Theodore Marburg (1862 - 1946), Baltimore, acquired circa 1900.
    By descent to the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF A NEW ENGLAND COLLECTOR


    Literature

    Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Ernest Meissonier Rétrospective, exh. cat., 25 March - 27 June 1993, pp. 190-191, illustrated.
    C. Hungerford, Ernest Meissonier Master in his Genre, Cambridge, 1999, p, 129, fig. 58, illustrated, as Meissonier as Napoléon.


    Exhibited

    London, Arthur Tooth & Sons' Galeries, Meissonier Exhibition, April 1893, no. 50, as Napoléon Ier.
    Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1929.