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FAMILLE NOBLE FRANCAISE
Post Lot Text
LE PETIT BOUDEUR, OIL ON CANVAS, BY JEAN-BAPTISTE GREUZE
This painting corresponds exactly to its description in Ange-Laurent La Live de Jully's catalogue of 1764, dedicated to his collection: "a little painting by Greuze titled The Petit Boudeur, on canvas, with a height of six and a half inches and a width of fourteen [44, 5 x 37, 8 cm]. It represents a mischievous child who is in a bad mood and thus is pushing his shoulder against his chin; it would not be possible to portray a more truthful rendering of the head, and give it a more accurate expression". This description is completed in the catalogue of the sale of the collector in which the following lot was presented as its pendant depicting a little girl holding a capucin (known by P.C Ingouf's engraving). Being very fortunate as a collector, elected at the age of 28 as a member of the Academy, La Live de Jully had created in his hôtel particulier of the rue de Richelieu a cabinet of Italian and Flemish paintings as well as painting and sculptures of French contemporary artists. He published a guide to this collection in 1764 (see. Colin Bailey, Patriotic taste, New Haven and London, 2002, pp. 33-69).
La Live was very much attached to Greuze and facilitated the latter's acceptance to the Academy in 1755. He promoted his career as a painter by ordering several paintings such as The Reading of the Bible. La Live who was politically well connected and in charge of welcoming the Ambassadors at Versailles managed to obtain royal commissions for Greuze. Around 1765, La Live slowly sunk into madness and his widow had to organize the sale of his paintings for her subsistence as well as her three children's. Diderot attempted to sell 'en bloc' this exceptional collection to Catherine II but failed. La Live had a dozen paintings by Greuze among which is the Portrait of La live de Jully playing the harp exhibited at the Salon of 1759 and presently in The National Gallery in Washington, and Child falling asleep over his book exhibited at the Salon of 1755 (Fabre museum in Montpellier), another testimony of Greuze's tender and unique vision towards children.
The painting's later provenance is difficult to establish with certainty since another version of the painting exists [on wood, illustrated in two sales catalogues: the sale of Blin, 27 February 1874 (lot 3, 45 x 37 cm) and anonymous sale, Paris, 3rd June 1858 (lot 31, 44 x 34 cm.] as well as a painting with the same title showing the sulky boy (sale Lady Cook, Christie's London, 8 december 2005, lot 24). Additionally, the first catalogue of Greuze established in 1908 by J.Martin, curator of the Musée de Tournus, does not distinguish the provenances of the different paintings.
Mr Edgar Munhall dates this picture circa 1759 and confirms its authorship (from photographs, written communication, 14 March 2010).