Eva Gonzalès (1849-1883)
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Eva Gonzalès (1849-1883)

Le moineau

Eva Gonzalès (1849-1883)
Le moineau
signed ‘Eva Gonzalès’ (upper right)
pastel on paper
24 1/4 x 19 7/8 in. (61.5 x 50.5 cm.)
Executed circa 1865-1870
The artist’s estate; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 20 February 1885, lot 67.
Henri Guérard, until at least 25 May 1897.
Jeanne Guérard-Gonzalès, Paris, by descent from the above, in 1897.
Jean-Raymond Guérard, Paris, by 1924.
Galerie Brame et Lorenceau, Paris, by circa 1975.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, by 1988.
The Art Quarterly, New York, Winter 1972 (illustrated).
J.-J. Lévêque, Les années Impressionnistes, 1870-1889, Paris, 1990, p. 188 (illustrated p. 189).
M.-C. Sainsaulieu & J. de Mons, Eva Gonzalès, 1849-1883, Etude critique et catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1990, no. 15, p. 74 (illustrated p. 75).
S. Melikian, ‘The Women Stars of Impressionism’, in International Herald Tribune, 16-17 October 1993, p. 9.
Paris, Galerie Daniel Malingue, Maîtres Impressionnistes et Modernes, November - December 1989, no. 3, n.p. (illustrated n.p.).
Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet, Les Femmes Impressionnistes, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Berthe Morisot, October - December 1993, no. 46, pp. 143-144 (illustrated; illustrated again n.p.).
Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Ritratti e figure, Capolavori impressionisti, March - July 2003, no. 53, p. 198 (illustrated p. 199).
Krems, Kunsthalle, Renoir und das Frauenbild des Impressionismus, April - July 2005, p. 103 (illustrated p. 41).
Milan, Palazzo Reale, L’Arte delle Donne, dal Rinascimento al Surrealismo, December 2007 - March 2008, p. 147 (illustrated).
San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Women Impressionists. Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Marie Bracquemond, June - September 2008, p. 312 (illustrated p. 220; with incorrect medium).
Paris, Musée Marmottan Monet, Les Impressionnistes en privé: Cent chefs-d’oeuvre de collections particulières, February - July 2014, no. 40, p. 110 (illustrated p. 111).
Special notice
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Sale room notice
Please note the correct medium is pastel on paper.

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

Filled with an overwhelming sense of serenity and light, Le moineau (The Sparrow) emerged during the earliest years of Eva Gonzalès’s short career, just as she was embarking upon her life as a professional artist. Gonzalès had begun her training under the tutelage of the society painter Charles Chaplin, a friend of her father’s who ran a weekly all-female drawing class and accepted women amongst his private pupils. Chaplin’s Neo-Rococo style became an important touchstone for Eva during her formative years, particularly in its mastery of pastel and elegant play of light and shade, lessons which clearly influence the present composition. Delicately layering and blending the pastels together to achieve a velvety soft finish, Gonzalès demonstrates the bourgeoning artistic skill that brought her to the attention of Edouard Manet in 1869, her teacher and professional advisor throughout the 1870s.

Focusing on the delicate features of her favourite model, her younger sister Jeanne who was then in her teens, Eva creates an elegant, timeless portrait of youth that becomes a meditation on the interplay of light and shadow. The young woman, draped in a swathe of transparent chiffon, appears lost in her own thoughts, her gaze drifting off into the distance while the little sparrow balancing on the edge of her hand looks quizzically up at her. Concentrating the direct light on the model’s bare back, Gonzalès casts Jeanne’s face in soft shadow, granting her a melancholy mystique, her expression remaining inscrutable to the viewer. Touches of bright colour appear in the golden ears of corn that adorn her braided hair, while the delicate play of flesh tints in Jeanne’s face, diligently observed from life, allows Eva to demonstrate her keen understanding of colour. By choosing this moment of quiet introspection, Eva reveals the intimate connection that existed between the two sisters – indeed, their close bond would allow the artist to capture Jeanne in a variety of guises and different expressions over the course of her career, from an elegant spectator at the theatre, to an enigmatic young girl at her toilette, and a dreamy young woman, as she lays in bed, unselfconscious under the gaze of her favourite sister.

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