(Braine, 1856 - Paris, 1939)
Oil on panel enlarged by two centimeters on the right side
Signed lower left.
Dedicated top right to Princess Maria JABLONOWSKA
45 x 57 cm
Provenance: former property of Sarah BERNHARDT in Belle-Île-en-Mer
Édouard Gelhay was a pupil of Jules Goupil, Alexandre Cabanel, William Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury.
He exhibited, from 1878, at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris where he appears there with the greatest regularity until the First World War, then sporadically until 1929. During all these years he won numerous awards: medal of 3rd class in 1886, exhibition from 1889, two bronze medals at the Universal Exhibitions of 1889 and 1900.
Gelhay painted genre scenes, portraits and landscapes, dealing with oil or pastel in the impressionist manner. Apart from the few portraits he presented in the first five years, the majority of his submissions relate to the genre scene with a strong sentimental vein. From 1886 to 1890, social images occupied a large place in Gelhay's production. Between 1893 and 1895, he devoted himself to commissioning portraits of Prince Victor Napoleon, fully absorbed by the reproduction of portraits of members of the Bonaparte family at the Musée de Versailles. Subsequently, he appears at the Salon with more watered-down, even gallant images and an increased presence of pastels from 1900.
He was knighted in the Legion of Honor in 1908, following the organization of two French exhibitions of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts in Havana (in 1907 and in 1908), after having founded a society of Friends of the Arts there. Gelhay attempted the same experiment in Mexico City, thus contributing to the dissemination of French art in the Hispanic-American world.
Our painting is a separate piece in Gelhay's corpus for several reasons.
First, it is the only still life known to the artist to date.
Second, it tells us that Gelhay was an artist introduced to high society at the time. Indeed, the painting is dedicated to the daughter-in-law of Sarah Bernhardt: Princess Maria Teresa Virginia Klotilda Jablonowska (1863-1910), daughter of Prince Karol Jablonowski and Louise Françoise Jablonowska. She married Maurice Bernhardt (1864-1928) on December 29, 1887 in Paris, playwright, French theater director and son of Sarah Bernhardt and the Prince de Ligne. The couple will have two daughters, Simone (1889-1982) who married the grandson of Georges Clemenceau and Lysiane (1896-1977) who was taken in by Sarah Bernhardt on the death of her mother in 1910. This probably explains the origin of the work from the property of Sarah Bernhardt in Belle-Ile-en-Mer.
Museums : Arras, Lille, La Rochelle, Tourcoing, Lille, Morlaix, Nemours, Saint-Brieuc, Saint-Quentin, Senlis ...
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