Émile Munier (French, 1840-1895)
Property from an Important Midwestern Collection
Émile Munier (French, 1840-1895)

Un sauvetage

Émile Munier (French, 1840-1895)
Un sauvetage
signed and dated 'E. MUNIER 1894' (lower left)
oil on canvas
40 ½ x 75 in. (102.9 x 190.5 cm.)
Louis William Bovis (1892-1950), Dallas, circa 1940.
Private collection, Texas, by descent from the above.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 11 February 1997, lot 33, as Le Sauvetage (The Rescue).
Private collection, Europe.
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, New York, 2 May 2001, lot 31, as Le Sauvetage (The Rescue).
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
'Le salon de 1894 (Champs-Élysées),' La liberté, 30 April 1894, p. 12.
F. C. Barlet and J. Lejay, 'L’art et l’esotérisme,' L'initiation: revue philosophique indépendante des hautes études, Paris, June 1894, vol. 23, p. 207.
'Les on-dit,' Le rappel, Paris, 8 July 1894, n.p.
'Some examples of recent art,' The Cosmopolitan, London, May 1895, vol. XIX, no. 1, p. 125, illustrated, as Hard to Catch.
Paris, Salon, 1894, no. 1363.

Brought to you by

Laura Mathis
Laura Mathis

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Emile Munier began his artistic education in the studio of Adolphe Lucas and later worked with William Bouguereau, the incomparable master of the Academic technique. Munier was a frequent exhibitor at the Paris Salon from 1869 until his death in 1895. He was also a member of the Société des artistes français and maintained a studio on the boulevard Beauséjour.
Un sauvetage demonstrates the direct influence of the teaching of Bouguereau on Munier and the final result is one to rival the best works of the master. Of all the works in Munier’s oeuvre, Un sauvetage comes closest to Munier achieving the perfection of technique so sought-after by all students of Bouguereau. Both the composition and Munier’s adept use of glazes are an extraordinary artistic achievement. Munier’s use of flesh tones applied in multiple layers of thin, almost transparent glazes brings luminescence and life to the bodies of the two cupids. Munier has captured in the golden locks of the youngest cupid the shine, freshness and definition of human hair with an ability usually only found in the work of Bouguereau.
Munier was fascinated by children and frequently used his own children as models in his paintings. Suggestive of a mythological text, the playful subject matter of the present work serves as a vehicle for the artist to display his virtuosity with both figure and fauna with equal ability. The naturalistic poses of the young cupids as they bend to rescue their sinking arrows and quiver and the broken yellow iris which dangles in the water are executed with the same attention to detail, thereby heightening the sense of immediacy of the painting.
Un sauvetage was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1894. Both the size of the painting as well as the ambitious nature of the complex composition were devised to draw the attention of the public, as well as the judges. Munier clearly took into account the possibility that the painting would most likely be hung higher than any viewer’s direct line of vision, and created the effect of the cupids looking down at the public, an original and effective conceit.
This lot is accompanied by a photo certificate from Howard L. Rehs confirming the authenticity of this work, which will be included in his forthcoming Émile Munier catalogue raisonné under number 1894.01.

More from European Art Part II

View All
View All