Hugues MERLE (1823-1881), attributed to Bergère,
Pastel on paper laid down on canvas dated 1857 on the left trace of HM signature at the bottom right in the rebate of the frame
Bears a mark on the back on the stencil from the Durand-Ruel Gallery;
Provenance . Private collection
Very good condition (a slight tear restored to the left in the sky) Hugues Merle was a student of Léon Cogniet at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He competed unsuccessfully for the Prix de Rome in 1849. Genre painter and portraitist, he deals with moral or sentimental subjects. He has been compared to the painter William-Adolphe Bougereau. He exhibited at the Salon from 1847 and won 2nd class medals at the Salons of 1861 and 1863. Hugues Merle became Paul Durand-Ruel's friend in the early 1860s. The latter bought his first paintings from 1862. He introduces her to William-Adolphe Bouguereau, of whom he will become a rival. He painted portraits of Paul Durand-Ruel and his family in the mid-1860s.
Public collections: Paris; Orsay Museum, Grenoble; Grenoble museum? Paul; museum of fine arts Several
copies of this subject variously attributed are referenced on the market, mainly in England, and generally of lower formats. Our remarkable quality pastel, bearing the stencil mark of the Galerie Durand-Ruel and of a usual format at Merle, allows us to attribute it to the master. In the 1860s, Merle began to accept students in his studio. In the catalog of the Salon of 1868, Merle's name appears for the first time as a teacher of Henriette Grosso, who exhibited two paintings that year. Four years later, in 1872, Elisabeth Jane Gardner of New Hampshire also listed Merle as her mentor in the Salon catalog. It is therefore likely that our pastel, dated 1857, is the original, copied by the painter's pupils.
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