Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725-1805)
Portrait of a Young Man
Unsigned, identified on a label affixed to the stretcher, inscribed "Property of/Stanley N. Barbee/Los Angeles" on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 18 3/16 x 15 in. (46.3 x 38.0 cm), in a period frame.
Condition: Lined, scattered retouch, craquelure.
Provenance: Ex-collection Stanley Newbold Barbee, Los Angeles, purchased from Felix Goulêd, New York, November 11, 1937; then by family descent; Skinner, Inc., February 3, 2012, Sale 2581B, Lot 314; through to the estate of Robert Wynne, Massachusetts.
N.B. The painting at hand was examined in person by Dr. Edgar Munhall in the autumn of 2011. In his opinion, Dr. Munhall stated that the Portrait of a Young Man was painted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze sometime around 1800. A copy of Dr. Munhall's written report, including comparable images, is available for inspection and will accompany the lot.
Born in Tournus, Greuze moved to Paris in 1750, where he studied at the School of the Royal Academy and achieved success with genre painting. He was named an Associate member of the Academy in the category of genre painting in 1755. He received commissions from Mme. de Pompadour and was praised by Diderot for works that endowed art with morality. Like so many artists of the era, Greuze aspired to paint historical subjects, but did not find the reception for these that he had hoped. The refusal of the Academy to accept him as a history painter led him to withdraw from the Salon for thirty years. He continued successfully to paint portraits and figural works with great sensitivity and finesse.
In his report, Dr. Munhall wrote, "During and after the French Revolution, there was little demand for the serious genre pictures that had been Greuze's forte throughout most of his career. He therefore turned to portraits, a genre at which he had excelled from his earliest days. Revolutionary figures, lawyers, nouveaux-riches figures of society, even the young Napoleon Buonaparte sat to him, and though by now in his mid-seventies, the artist was showing no signs of diminishing talents." Commenting on the attire of the sitter, Dr. Munhall continued, "Such a British-inspired ensemble appeared in a number of Greuze's male portraits around 1800..."
The painting is mounted in an 18th-century frame which is listed in the original 1937 receipt from Felix Goulêd. The frame shows signs of having been re-fashioned along the top and bottom edges at some point to accommodate the portrait.
The painting was conserved by Jim Wright in December, 2011. Surface cleaned, old overpaint removed, repair to one-inch hole in the hair of the sitter, located 2-1/2 inches down from the center top. Retouch to minor losses, including old repair in hair about 1 inch in diameter, one small dot to proper right forehead measuring 1/4 inch diameter, and scattered very fine dots to face and collar. Revarnished with MS2A.
In his condition report, Mr. Wright stated, "The painting is in very good condition. It is glue/paste lined, and there is a repaired one-inch hole in the hair of the sitter. The surface is in excellent condition for this artist, with glazes intact displaying very minor wear. There are a few age cracks."
A copy of the Condition Report from Jim Wright is available for inspection.
Items may have wear and tear, imperfections, or the effects of aging. Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.