Jacques-Laurent Agasse (Geneva 1767-1849 London)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 2… Read more Property from the Collection of the Late Edouard Pictet (lots 21-25) Edouard Pictet (1916-1997) was born into a distinguished Geneva family of bankers, lawyers, scientists and statesmen. After attending the Calvin College he graduated in law from the University of Geneva, before gaining an MBA at Harvard. He remained in the United States for some years before joining Pictet & Cie, the family business, to which he dedicated his entire professional life. Pictet & Cie was founded as a partnership in 1805 during the Napoleonic occupation of Switzerland and remains today one of the largest private banks in Europe, specialising in the management of private wealth, institutional assets and mutual funds. Edouard Pictet displayed a passion for animals from a very early age. As a child he once harnessed a cart to a pair of rams and rode it around the family property, causing much consternation. His love of horses was evident to everyone and it was no surprise when he took up riding lessons. He completed his military service in the cavalry, and as soon as he was able he acquired some eventing horses. During the 1960s he took part in equestrian events at the highest level, especially in Britain, at Harewood (the European Championships), Burghley, and Badminton in 1961, at a time when such events were exclusively amateur. He also enjoyed fox-hunting in Ireland. However, Edouard Pictet's devotion to the horse was more than a matter of sport - his passion and knowledge extended to virtually everything to do with this noble animal. He assiduously studied their anatomy, examined their illnesses and carefully observed their comportment. Fascinated by their aesthetic, he was naturally drawn to collect works by the leading equestrian painters and sculptors; the following five lots are part of the superb collection he assembled.
Jacques-Laurent Agasse (Geneva 1767-1849 London)

Dash, a setter in a wooded landscape

Jacques-Laurent Agasse (Geneva 1767-1849 London)
Dash, a setter in a wooded landscape
signed with initials 'JL.A' (upper right, on the tree)
oil on canvas
50 3/8 x 39¾ in. (128 x 101 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 18 November 1960, lot 118.
The artist's account book, May 1816, 'Portrait of a setter dog ½ length'.
C.F. Hardy, J.L. Agasse: his life, his work, manuscript, Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, 1905, p. 53.
C.F. Hardy, La vie et l'oeuvre de Jaques-Laurent Agasse, March 1921, illustrated.
Sporting Art in Britain: A Loan Exhibition to celebrate twenty-five years of the British Sporting Art Trust, catalogue for the exhibition held at Christie's, King Street, 2003, p. 18, under no. 38.
Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, and London, Tate Gallery, Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1988-89, no. 35.
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Lot Essay

Agasse was born in Switzerland to a wealthy Huguenot family. After attending the École du Colibri in Geneva, he moved to Paris where he trained under Jacques-Louis David and Horace Vernet, and studied anatomy. Agasse is believed to have first visited England, relatively briefly, in 1790, shortly after meeting the Hon. George Pitt, later 2nd Lord Rivers, in Geneva (see lot 23). The 1790s, however, were a time of disquiet in Geneva and, after stays in Lausanne and Paris, in the autumn of 1800 he was drawn back to London by the artistic vitality and commercial opportunities, as well as the relative political stability, offered by the British capital, and he was to remain there for the rest of his life.

His plan was to establish himself very much as a sporting painter - particularly of racehorses and dogs - and, with both commissions and introductions from Lord Rivers, he met with considerable success. Other patrons included the Earl of Lonsdale, Francis, 2nd Baron Heathfield, Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, the Hon. Henry Wellesley (younger brother of the Duke of Wellington) and, most significantly, King George IV, for whom Agasse painted The Nubian Giraffe, 1827, and White-tailed Gnus, 1828.

Like his great predecessor George Stubbs, Agasse brought, over and above a fundamental understanding of anatomy and exceptional draughtsmanship, an empathy and originality to his portraits of both people and animals that placed his work on an altogether higher plane than that of his rivals. Like Stubbs, he responded to the demand for paintings of animals by creating works of exquisite beauty and extraordinary sensitivity. Yet in time the broadening of his oeuvre to include genre scenes was as much commercially driven as it was artistic, as the days of charging £300 for a picture (as for Lord Rivers' Stud Farm at Stratfield Saye of 1806-07, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art) receded.

Details of the original commission and Dash's owner are not known, but the subject was no doubt a favourite hound belonging to an aristocrat or member of the landed gentry who patronised Agasse. The device of presenting the animal looking directly at the viewer is one the artist used with great effect (for another example see A Study of Foxhounds, included in Sporting Art in Britain: A Loan Exhibition to celebrate twenty-five years of the British Sporting Art Trust, Christie's, King Street, 2003, no. 38). Caught in a shaft of sunlight against a verdant wooded landscape, Dash is a supremely elegant and insightful work.

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