Monday, June 17, 2013

Caveat Emptor

or: Four Not Quite Bouguereau's: The previously mentioned Future Post ~

Or as I like to say, "Fraud!", for what else can it be called. The following four head studies were auctioned by Christie's, not as; attributed to/after/school of/style of/in the manner of, but as Bouguereau's. Lets just say there's a reason Christie's offered them at one of their backwoods auctions, "Tableaux Anciens Et Du Xixeme Siecle", the type which is usually filled with the dregs that couldn't make it in an "Old Master" or "Important 19th Century Art" sale. 

Furthermore ~

from Christie's Lot Text
"Ces études seront citées dans le catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint de William Adolphe Bouguereau réalisé par Damien Bartoli, catalogue actuellement en voie de publication grâce à l'appui de Frédéric Ross, président du musée virtuel ARC sur Internet.
Nous remercions vivement Monsieur Damien Bartoli pour son aide à la description de ces lots."

Incompetence or collusion? (I don't know, I'm just asking.)

note ~ Based on the vignette state of Lot 155, one can assume they were not executed as forgeries, but rather as copies by either a student or assistant in Bouguereau's atelier. (see below, Lot 155)

Lot 154
Etude de tête de femme brune, de profil

After a canvas for which there is no Bartoli/Ross entry, but is referenced under 1896/01: "There is a portrait of the same model, but seen in right profile, in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada".

Lot 154

I believe the Bouguereau was done as reference for 1893/01 Offrande à l'Amour [Offering to Cupid] a painting begun circa 1891.

Why would Bouguereau bother to paint a copy of a head study? Based on this jpeg it is obvious he didn't. The "closed surface" of the flesh, hard edges, dead darks, the caricatured shape of the upper lip, not to mention the color (jpeg color, I know).

W. Bouguereau
Study of a Girl's Head, c. 1890
Oil on canvas 45.7 x 38.1 cm
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Bequest of J.W.L. Forster, 1938

Lot 155
Etude de tête de femme brune, de trois-quarts

This one is worse than Lot 154. What else can I say?

Lot 155

W. Bouguereau
1896/01Portrait de jeune fille [Portrait of a Girl]
Oil on canvas 46.5 x 38cm (18 1/4 x 15in.)
Painted circa 1887
Signed and dated 1896, top left

Painted as a study for 1887/04 Frère et sœur [Brother and Sister], Bouguereau finished, signed and dated it later as a present to a friend or to offer it to a charity sale. It is clear that the copy depicts Bouguereau's original unfinished study*, which indicates that the copyist had access to it while it was still in the Master's studio.

*Parts of the vignetted background can still be seen as it strikes through Bouguereau's finish.

W. Bouguereau
1887/04 Frère et sœur

Lot 156
Etude de tête de femme blonde, de profil

A study for 1900/02 Regina Angelorum. I have never seen the Bouguereau's original study, but based solely on this jpeg, thats not it. Edges, color, surface, the support (which appears to be the same as the horrendous Lot 155) …second rate.

Lot 156

1900/02 Regina Angelorum
Bartoli/Ross catalogue notes: The idea for this painting came much earlier than 1900. Indeed, the project dates back to at least the early 1880's, as is testified by several studies of the girl who modeled for the angels, dating from 1882-1883. Two head studies related to this work were sold at Christie's Paris (June 2004, lots 155 and 156).

W. Bouguereau
1900/02 Regina Angelorum

Lot 157
Etude de tête de femme blonde, de face

Lot 157

Same faults as Lot 156. Painted after a study for 1897/10 L'admiration [Admiration].

W. Bougereau
1897/10 L'admiration

For sake of comparison, an authentic Bouguereau study done for the same painting ~

W. Bouguereau
Étude de tête d'Elize Brugière
inscribed 'Melle Elize Brugière 81 rue de Picpus' (lower left)
oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 15 in. (46 x 38 cm.

It's gaffes like this that makes one question the value of a Christie's Education. ~