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French School, circa 1772
French School, circa 1772

The destruction of the children of Niobe

Details
French School, circa 1772
The destruction of the children of Niobe
oil on canvas, unlined
56.3/8 x 44½ in. (143.2 x 113 cm.)
Provenance
Anon. sale, Palais d'Orsay, Paris, 28 November 1978, lot 42, as 'Jombert'.
Anon. sale, Drouot Montaigne, Paris, 25 June 1991, lot 71, as Jean Bonvoisin.

Lot Essay

The subject of this picture was that chosen for the 1772 Prix de Rome for which there were six competitors: Jacques-Louis David (whose failed entry is now in a private collection); Pierre-Charles Jombert and Anicet-Charles-Gabriel Lemonnier (whose successful prize pictures are now respectively in the École des Beaux-Arts and the Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen); Jean Bonvoisin, Jean-Pierre Bidauld (brother of the more famous Xavier-Joseph) and a virtually unknown artist called Langue.

Given that Jombert's and Lemonnier's compositions do not resemble the present one and that by comparison with other works, Bonvoisin's authorship is unlikely, an attribution to Bidauld or to Langue seems probable, although there is little material by these two hands with which the present picture can be compared.

Curiously, the pose of Niobe corresponds closely with the same figure in David's failed entry and must presumably have been inspired by it, although it would seem strange for an artist competing for this prestigious prize to have borrowed heavily from a fellow competitor.

We are grateful to Mr. Alastair Laing for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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