Jean-Siméon Chardin (Paris 1699-1779)
Jean-Siméon Chardin (Paris 1699-1779)

Leeks, a casserole with a cloth, a copper pot and cover, an onion and eggs with a pestle and mortar, on a stone ledge

Jean-Siméon Chardin (Paris 1699-1779)
Leeks, a casserole with a cloth, a copper pot and cover, an onion and eggs with a pestle and mortar, on a stone ledge
signed and dated 'chardin/1734' (lower left, on the ledge)
oil on canvas
125/8 x 155/8 in. (32.1 x 39.7 cm.)
Count Gustaf Adolf Sparre (1746-1794), Sahlgrenska huset, Gothenberg (probably acquired in Paris 1768-1772). Removed to Kulla-Gunnarstorp Estate, Skanna probably not later than 1775 and by descent through his wife Countess Amélie, née Ramel, to their daughter Christina, who married Count Jacob Gustaf de la Gardie, by whom sold along with the entire estate in 1837 to Count Carl de Geer of Leufst and by descent to the present owner.
G.A. Sparre's estate inventory, Ar 1794 Den 6 Oktober företogs bouppteckning öfver Farmlidne Grefve Gustaf Axelsson Sparres Efterlämnade Ägendom pa Kulla Gunnarstorp Satersgard....., line 17 under Tableau (2 d:o föreställande atskillige husgeradssaker ('Stilleben', av Chardin) (preserved in Göta hovrätts archive, Jönköping).
O. Granberg, Nordisk Tidskrift för Vetenskap, Konst och Industri, Studierii Tafvelsamlingen pa Vanas, Fjärde häftet, Stockholm, 1885, pp. 319-320.
O. Granberg, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux anciens inconnus jusqu'ici dans les collections privées de la Suède I, Paris, 1886, no. 27.
J. Guiffey, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de J.B.S. Chardin, Paris, 1908, no. 254.
A. Haho, Svenska Slott och Herresaten, Skane, Stockholm, 1909, p. 82.
H.F.A. Furst, Chardin, London, 1911, p. 134.
O. Granberg, Inventaire général des trésors d'Art peintures et sculptures, principalement de maîtres étrangers en Suède, II, Paris, 1913, no. 8.
O. Granberg, Svenska Konstamlingarnas Historia, Fran Gustav wasas tid till vara dagar, III, Stockholm, 1931, pp. 61 and 70, no. 41.
G. Wildenstein, Chardin, Paris, 1933, no. 1003, fig. 164.
E. Goldschmidt, Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Stockholm, 1945, pp. 101-102, pl. 39.
G. Wildenstein, Chardin, Zurich, 1963, p. 163, no. 137, fig. 59.
Slott och Herresäten i Sverige, Skane, III, Stockholm, 1966, p. 343.
J. Hasselgren, Konstsamlaren Gustaf Adolf Sparre, 1746-1794, Stockholm, 1974, p. 124, illustrated and pp. 166 and 197.
P. Rosenberg, in the catalogue of the exhibition Chardin, Paris, Grand Palais; Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art; and Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Cleveland, 1979, pp. 168-169, under no. 40, illustrated.
P. Rosenberg, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Chardin, Paris, 1983, no. 74A.
A. Chong, European & American Painting in the Cleveland Museum of Art: A Summary Catalogue, Cleveland, 1993, p. 35.
P. Rosenberg & R. Temperini, Chardin, Paris, 1999, p. 219, no. 75A.
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Fransk Konst i Svensk ägo, 1926, no. 59.
Gothenburg, Göteborgs konstmuseum, Stilleben fran tre arhundraden, 1938, no. 9.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Fem sekler Fransk Konst, 15 August-9 November 1958, no. 71.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 1700-tal, Tanke och form i Rokokon, 5 October 1979-6 January 1980, no. 543.
Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art.

Lot Essay

Chardin was admired by many of his contemporaries above all other painters, and critics -- then as now -- acknowledged that his art transcended the quotidian matters it depicted. In contrast with the luxurious tastes of the 18th century, the paintings with which Chardin first made his reputation were small still lifes, such as the present lot, depicting the objects of daily life with startling realism. On a stone ledge in the plainest of kitchen interiors, the artist has arranged everyday household objects with deliberation: a casserole, a copper pot, a mortar, a pestle and some eggs. In Chardin's paintings, the simplest of objects emerge from the delicately modulated half-light with poetic monumentality: perfect compositions of timeless, classical equilibrium are nevertheless charged with emotion. 'Who has expressed, as he has expressed, the life of inanimate objects?' asked Jules and Edmond de Goncourt (1864). The Abbé Le Blanc (1753) recognized that 'there are works which need no label to indicate their master. Such are works by Chardin, the painter who renders nature with the greatest accuracy and truth'. Le Blanc was the first to see in Chardin's art a visual equivalent of philosophy -- 'What M. de Fontenelle has said about a philosopher applies exactly to M. Chardin: He catches nature in the act' -- but almost two centuries later André Gide (1937) could claim that 'the substantial gravity in one of these paintings and the attention lavished on the object are as contemplative as ... a meditation by Descartes'. For Diderot, Chardin was, simply, 'the Great Magician'.

The present painting was purchased - probably directly from Chardin - by the eminent Swedish collector Count Gustav Adolf Sparre (1746-1794), who, as behove a young nobleman of the time, had been studying in Paris for four years beginning in 1768. Count Sparre, who during these years assembled the finest collection of its kind in private hands in Sweden, also bought two genre scenes by Chardin, The Drawing Lesson (Tokyo Fuji Art Museum) and The Right Education (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) which he might have acquired from La Live de Jully's collection in 1770, and from which he is known to have purchased Greuze's Laundress (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles). In 1837 the whole collection was bought from Sparre's daughter by Count Carl de Geer, and hung in the de Geer's castle until 1855, when he gave the collection to his granddaughter upon her marriage to Count Axel Fredrik Wachtmeister, owner of Wanas Castle. The Chardins remained at Wanas with the rest of the collection for over 100 years until 1982 when Count Axel Fredrik Wachtmeister's great grandson, the former Swedish Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Washington, Count Wilhelm Wachtmeister, brought them to the United States.

The present lot was paired in the Sparre Collection with another kitchen still life by Chardin (sold, Christie's New York, 21 October 1997, lot 130, for $662,500; Rosenberg 1983, no. 73A), although they were not necessarily conceived as pendants; only the present lot is fully signed and dated, but both paintings are presumed to have been executed in the same year, 1734. Only one other version of the present composition is known, also signed but not dated and of equally high quality: it was acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1980.

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