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    Sale 7448

    Old Master and British Pictures

    7 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 204

    Joseph-Marie Vien (Montpellier 1716-1809 Paris)

    The Muse of Music

    Price Realised  


    Joseph-Marie Vien (Montpellier 1716-1809 Paris)
    The Muse of Music
    signed and dated 'Vien 1758' (lower left, on the musical score)
    oil on canvas
    53 x 67¾ in. (44.5 x 172.1 cm.), shaped top and bottom, made up in to a rectangle

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    Mentioned by Diderot in his review of the Salon of 1761 (see Diderot, op. cit.), this picture can also be identified in a notable sketch made of the Salon by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin in his copy of the livret du Salon (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale; Gaehtgens and Lugand, op. cit., p. 170). Gaehtgens and Lugand suggested a dating of circa 1761, unaware that it is dated 1758. This makes it earlier than the smaller picture of the same subject, which is dated 1759 and was included in the Salon in the same year (ibid., p. 166, no. 162, p. 162). The exhibition of the present painting at the Salon may have been delayed until 1761 so that it could be shown along side Vien's Cupid and Psyche (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille), no. 24 in the same Salon. Although these two paintings are not exactly pendants, they evidently formed parts of the same decorative scheme, which may also have included a 'Venus punishing Cupid' (ibid., p. 169, no. 174, pl. 174). The only recorded sketch for the painting under consideration (ibid., p. 169, no. 173, pl. 173) was included in the Christie's 1990 sale as lot 129.

    A protégé of the great French connoisseur and collector the Comte de Caylus, Vien entered the studio of Natoire at an early age and attained the coveted prix de Rome of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in 1745. The neoclassical tendencies he developed there ran so counter to the reigning taste of the age that, when he returned to Paris, it was only through the intervention of Boucher that Vien's 'Daedalus and Icarus' was accepted for his admission to the Académie. In 1776, at the height of his reputation, Vien became the director of the French Academy in Rome. One of the first French neoclassicists, among the many pupils in whom he nourished the neoclassical style were Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) and François-André Vincent (1746-1816).

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    E. Disant; sale, Reims, 26 May 1870, lot 264 (including the sketch).
    Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 10 January 1990, lot 128.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the measurements for this lot should read: 53 x 67¾ in. (134.6 x 172.1 cm.)


    D. Diderot, Salon de 1761, ed J. Seznec and J. Adhémar in Salons, I, Oxford, 1975, pp. 86 and 119.
    J. du Seigneur, 1863, p. 36.
    J. Locquin, La Peinture d'Histoire en France de 1747 à 1785, 1912, ed. Paris, 1978, p. 195, note. 4.
    G.F. Koch, Die Kunstausstellung: Ihre Geschichte von den Anfängen bis zum Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1967, pl. 69b.
    T. Gaehtgens, 'Deux tableaux de J.-M. Vien récemment acquis par le musées de Brest et de Lille', La Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France, 26, 1976, p. 375.
    E.-M. Bukdahl, Diderot, Critique d'art, I, Copenhagen, 1981, p. 73.
    T. Gaehtgens and J. Lugand, Joseph-Marie Vien, Paris, 1988, pp. 168-9, no. 172, pl. 172.


    Paris, Salon, 1761, no. 25, as La Musique, 4 x 5 pieds.