Offered by Antiquités Philippe Glédel
Important oil on canvas representing, painted at mid-body and highlighted by a clever chiaroscuro, a young maid preparing to cut a cabbage, her pensive and almost enigmatic look turned towards the observer.
The high quality frame is made of natural oak and is richly carved with arabesques linked by C-shaped scrolls, quivers, shells, palmettes with flowers in the spandrels, crosses, ironwork motifs and acanthus bases (in the corners and in the middle).
Workshop of Jean-Baptiste Santerre, first half of the 18th century.
Jean-Baptiste Santerre (Magny-en-Vexin 1651 - Paris 1717) : painter of history and portraits. The young painter was first trained by François Lemaire, then apprenticed to Bon Boulogne in 1675. Strangely enough, there is almost no trace of his activity before 1698. Santerre was finally admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a history painter in 1704 with a Suzanne au bain (Paris, Musée du Louvre). Living in the Louvre, he began the official part of his career in his fifties, turning to the art of portraiture and multiplying the fantasy figures that made his success and earned him numerous commissions. His most inspired works are often qualified as sensual (we quote in particular the case of his Sainte Thérèse which causes a scandal and about which d'Argenville writes: "The characters of the heads are so beautiful, the expression and the action are so lively that to scrupulous people this painting seems dangerous and even the ecclesiastics avoid celebrating our Holy Mysteries at the altar of this chapel. Noticed by Louis XIV, he also received, at the end of his life, a strong support from the Regent. Thus several paintings entered the royal collections: The Madeleine and Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie (Louvre), a Portrait of the Regent and The Regent and the Goddess Minerva as the Countess of Parabère (Versailles). And if art historians agree that he had a great talent as a draughtsman and colorist, making him one of the greatest portraitists of his time, they mainly emphasize his influence, as an easel artist, on French painting in the first half of the 18th century.
All this part of his work is related to the subject called "de caprice". It is undeniable that Santerre is an inspired artist and his paintings, at the antipodes of the mawkish, surprise and challenge us all the more that he knew how to take distance with academism, transcend genres and, by reinterpreting the Flemish masters, to experiment with the easel painting on various themes appealing to the creative imagination (by deviating from a more conventional realism).
These female figures allowed him to enjoy great success with enlightened amateurs in the first two decades of the 18th century: the Mercure Galant reported that "they were snatched, so to speak, from the hands, and that they were pushed at a considerable price". A great specialist of Jean-Baptiste Santerre, Alfred Potiquet summarizes the craze that his work aroused at the beginning of the 18th century as follows: "He painted fantasy heads, where he put the most pleasant features of those for whom he made them. This rather eccentric process did not diminish his clientele and increased the number of admirers of his talent".
Let us also quote Claude Lesné, J.- B. Santerre (1651 - 1717), thesis of the École du Louvre, J.- P. Cuzin [dir.], 1985, volume I. "One of the original features of this artist, as well as of the pictorial movement to which he belongs, is the reworking and adaptation to the taste of the day of subjects treated in the 17th century by the Flemish and the Dutch. The small interior scenes of the latter, located in offices, kitchens or bourgeois rooms, approached in a picturesque vein, and animated with small full-length figures are replaced by isolated models, three-quarter or half-body in front of a neutral background, accompanied only by a few representative accessories.
During a colloquium devoted to Jean-Baptiste Santerre, Emmanuel Faure-Carriburu describes perfectly the "singular mixture of genres of which his works are the expression", a certain "floating of compartmentalization" of the "images tended between the description of a social class and a concern of eroticization of the bodies" and in which often takes shape a possible double reading (and here why not a discrete reference to Judith cutting the head of the general Holofernes)... And to quote Claude Lesné: "the dreamy expression and the bare shoulder contrast somewhat with the use of light and varied tones confirm this search for seduction".
Thus, among his rare paintings, the subject of La jeune fille au choux testifies to one of the painter's greatest merits: the invention of fantasy figures, a hybrid genre situated halfway between the portrait and the genre scene.
Several other versions of the work are known (the original, presented at the Salon of 1704, from the Ancienne Collection Blondel de Gagny, has now disappeared), due to Santerre's workshop or disciples, including those (of slightly different sizes) now in the museums of Bordeaux and Reims (see documentation), Calais, Arbois and Le Mans.
This is not surprising considering the important reputation of this painter during his lifetime, nicknamed the "French Correggio" and about whom Voltaire declared: "His painting of Adam and Eve* is one of the most beautiful there is in Europe. (Let us note in passing that it is again a painting that caused a great scandal, and not because it represented the Regent and his mistress, but because of its anomphalism).
* Philippe d'Orléans and his mistress Marie Madeleine de la Vieuville, Countess of Parabère, as Adam and Eve (Colorado, private collection).
Specialists point to the copy in the Bordeaux museum as the most faithful and successful of all. Our painting, beautifully framed, is as close to it as possible, both in format, quality and finally color palette.
Frame: height 93 cm x width 74 cm (format 30 F).
Frame: height 122 cm x width 105 cm x thickness 9,5 cm.
Width of molding 18.5 cm / angles of 23.5 cm.
Unretouched painting, hung on a keyed frame in the 19th century.
Cleaned and varnished by our restorer.
The frame is in a superb original condition. On the back there is a keyed frame,
a beautiful patina hare dress and two original hooks wrought iron.
13 500 €