Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)

The Immaculate Conception

65¾ x 43 7/8in. (167 x 111.5cm.)
Horace-François-Bastien Sébastiani de la Porta, Maréchal de France, who participated in Napoleon's Spanish campaign after 1807
Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, by whom removed from Spain, according to Stirling, see below; sale, Lebrun, Paris, 2-4 and 9-11 Feb. 1813 'Conception. The Virgin looks up, with joined hands; a glory of eleven cherubim above, four little angels beneath; one holds a palm, one an olive branch; a third has lilies and roses. 61 x 40 pouces'
Edward Gray, Château d'Arriguez, Var (possibly the Edward Gray of Harringay Park, near Hornsey, whose posthumous sales, including no pictures, were held at Christie's in 1839)
Richard Sanderson, Belgrave Square, London; Christie's, 17 June 1848, lot 26 'Murillo - The Assumption of the Virgin, at whose feet
are a group of four infant angels bearing palms and flowers: the Virgin is in a white and blue drapery; her hands clasped on breast. A magnificent chef d'oeuvre. From the Sebastiani Collection; it was brought from Spain by M. Le Brun, and afterwards in the collection of E. Gray, Esq.' (unsold at 770gns.); (+) Christie's, 20 March 1858, lot 20 (680gns. to Nieuwenhuys)
Schneider, ancien président du Corps législatif; (+) sale, Paris, 6-7 April 1876, lot 49, illustrated with an engraving by A. Salmon following a watercolour copy by Lefort (22,000 francs)
Anon. Sale, Sotheby's, 20 April 1988, lot 24

P.-M. Gault de Saint-Germain, Guide des amateurs de peinture dans les collections générales et particulières, les magazins et les ventes, 1816, pp.205-6
W. Stirling-Maxwell, Annals of the Artists of Spain, 1848, III, p.1419
C. B. Curtis, Velázquez and Murillo, 1883, p.136, no.49
D. Angulo Iñiguez, Murillo, 1981, II, p.111, under no.103, and
p.125, no.116a, and III, pl.366

Lot Essay

Professor Angulo dated the present picture c.1670, pointing out that the head and hands of the Virgin are closely related to those in the 'Immaculate Conception' in the church of San Felipe de Neri, Cadiz (his pl.374).

The present work can be identified beyond question as the picture in the Schneider sale from the engraving in the sale catalogue. Its identification as the Sébastiani-Le Brun-Gray-Sanderson painting cannot, however, be established with certainty, although the descriptions in the Le Brun and Sanderson sale catalogues make it highly probable. Maréchal Sebastiani seems to have acquired a number of Spanish pictures while campaigning in Spain; his posthumous sale held in Paris, 24-28 November 1851, included such works as Zurbarán's 'David with the Head of Goliath' sold at Christie's, New York, 11 January 1991, lot 93. Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, the former husband of Louise-Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, started life as an artist but became one of the greatest of eighteenth century French dealer-connoisseurs. He travelled widely in Spain in 1807-8 and, deeply impressed by Spanish art, returned with a series of pictures attributed to Velázquez, Claudio Coello, Alonso Cano and Murillo (see W. Buchanan, Memoirs of Painting, 1824, II, pp.251-7, and F. Haskell, Rediscoveries in Art, ed. 1980, pp.25-38 and 186, note 10)

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