In 1780, when Andreas Joseph Chandelle was 37, the collector Heinrich Sebastian Hüsgen was moved to write, "While working as an Imperial Post Office administrator here [in Stuttgart], he makes pastel paintings as a hobby. He spent his childhood in the family residence, where an uncle's collection of handsome oils provided his sole education in art. Putting their lessons into practice with pastels, he produced portraits of an utterly perfect resemblance and revealed a sense of colour so powerful that his works vie with those of the old masters. . . He also creates very fine renderings of buildings, cattle, still lifes with fruit, happy bands of peasants, and landscapes after Schütz and various Dutch masters, demonstrating with his native talent what pastel alone can achieve."
Scion of a Catholic wine merchant family, Chandelle began working for the Thurn-und-Taxis postal service in 1762. At the same time he took up working with pastel and began building a collection of mainly – but not exclusively – Dutch and German old masters. The collection numbered 296 items when it was dispersed at auction in 1820. As a sign of his recognition by the art world – although not necessarily of the status as an artist he laid claim to as a member of the Stuttgart Museum Society in 1808 – he was put in charge of the confiscated collection of the Dominican Church in Stuttgart, together with the painter Johann Georg Schütz. According to commentators like Hüsgen and, later, Friedrich Philipp Gwinner, Chandelle was self-taught, and taught pastel himself to his daughter Dorothea Chandelle (1784–1866). He often used family and friends as subjects for portraits, while also, as Hüsgen mentions, copying from the masters. Gwinner even adds that a good many works from his "choice" personal collection had been replicated as pastels. This is the case of two pictures that resurfaced in 1988, Young Man Playing a Lute and its sister-piece, Young Woman Playing a Guitar, respectively copied from oils by Hendrick Ter Brugghen and Jan Gerritsz van Bronkhorst.
This makes it very likely that The Holy Family with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist is also copied from a picture in the Chandelle collection. It is reminiscent of Utrecht Caravaggism and in particular of the manner of Matthias Stom (c. 1600–1650), whose handling of light creates a very subtle modelling of flesh. Chandelle conveys this in pastel with real brio, notably in Saint Anne's face, a quasi-verist portrait with an intensity of expression akin to that of Stom's Old Woman Praying, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Chandelle's pastels, most of them on parchment, number at least 112 – the quantity sold after his widow's death in 1833. Some 40 of them are currently known, in private hands and museums.
5 500 €
5 500 €