Judith and her Servant
The Coronation of the Virgin
Two Goats
The Virgin and Child Appearing to St Christina of Bolsena
Woman Brandishing a Dagger
Three Children, One Holding a Cornucopia
Womans Head
Scene from Roman History
Cupid Binding the Eyes of a Woman
Landscape with Mill
The Monk Smoking in the Sacristy
The Banks of the Rance
The Return from the Conference
Study of Woman with Raised Arm
Nativity / Madonna and Child

Judith and her Servant

1489 – Correggio – 1534

Black chalk on cream paper, fully glued to card
H. 25 cm
L. 21.2 cm

Most of the strokes in this drawing – those making up the essential lines of the composition, at least – have been worked with a stylus, with the aim of transferring it onto another surface: a painting canvas. This operation weakens the paper, hence the need to glue it onto a more resistant medium (here, thick paper), in order to preserve it. We have known of the painting obtained from this transfer since the end of the 19th century: to start with, in the London collection of Charles Fairfax Murray, from whom Wilhelm von Bode bought it in 1892 for the Musée de Strasbourg, where it is still considered one of Corregio’s oldest extant paintings. Its earlier history is unknown; the work is not cited in any biographies of the artist or any old inventories, and we know of no copies or engravings. The theory that it was commissioned by Isabelle d’Este between 1510 and 1514 has no basis in fact. However, the style of the painting (as we have said, one of Corregio’s very earliest) closely reflects those years, when the artist was still influenced by Andrea Mantegna. The stylus marks prove that the drawing presented here served as a cartoon for the Strasbourg painting. Furthermore, when we applied a tracing of the drawing not directly onto the painting, but onto a life-size image (in this case an X-ray), it was a perfect match. In the artist’s slender corpus of drawings, the work lies somewhere between the Woman’s Head now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (see Mario Di Giampaolo and Andrea Muzzi, Corregio’s Drawings, Turin, Umberto Allemandi, 1990, no. 1) and the Head of the adolescent Christ now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes (see Mario Di Giampaolo, Correggio disegnatore, Milan, Silvana, 2001, no. 28). The former drawing is a preparatory one (but features no stylus or prick marks) for a fresco in the Sant’Andrea Church in Mantua, one of the first known works by the artist; the latter, whose contours have been pricked for the transfer, was used as a cartoon for a work as yet unidentified. Despite their small scale, these three black chalk drawings with a few white highlights all have the same sense of monumentality, expressed through the firm strokes defining the main lines of the composition, and the use of hatching to suggest volume. We propose a date of around 1511 for this drawing: a new addition to the corpus of a major Renaissance artist.


Inscriptions in pencil on the back: “Fra Sebastiano del Piombino/1485-1547-Venice/Reynolds Collection”, covering an older inscription, “Sebastien del Piombo”



Former collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds, with stamp (L.2364) on the bottom right; Marcou collection, with stamp (L.1911b) on the bottom right



Eric Pagliano, in Disegno 2. Retour sur le catalogue des dessins italiens du musée de Rennes, under no. 22, to be published in June 2015

The Coronation of the Virgin

Michelangelo Anselmi
Lucca 1491 – Parma, documented up to 8 August 1554

Black chalk, white chalk highlights on blue paper (fully glued)
H. 22.5 cm
L. 28.3 cm

Previously attributed to Simone Pignone (as witness an inscription on the back), this work subsequently came on the Brussels art market under the name of Francesco Albani and was published by the present author as a drawing by Michelangelo Anselmi. The flexible, fluid style, which expresses the density and fullness of the forms while imbuing them with subtle play on light and shade, is found in the most Correggio-like of the Parma school painters, Michelangelo Anselmi. These are also the stylistic characteristics of a drawing in Windsor, Saint Anselm appearing to the Abbot Helsin (Royal Library no. 0601), Anselmi’s preparatory study for one of the pendentives (triangular panels) in the Oratory of the Immaculate Conception in Parma, taken by Arthur Popham as a starting point for reconstructing the artist’s graphic corpus (Arthur E. Popham, “I disegni di Michelangelo Anselmi”, in Parma per l’Arte, III, January-April 1953, pp. 11-17). The subject of the drawing, the Coronation of the Virgin, is that of one of the most controversial commissions received by the artist in Parma: the decoration of the east apse in the Church of Santa Maria della Steccata. The execution of the fresco, initially entrusted to Francesco Mazzola (aka Parmigiano) and then to Giulio Romano, was then given to Michelangelo Anselmi on 17 May 1540, when he agreed to carry out a project provided by Giulio Romano. Completed in 1542, the work was severely criticised and among other things, Anselmi was made to rework the two principle figures, Christ and the Virgin. The surviving drawings connected with these alterations include the Head of the Virgin in the Puech collection, now in the Musée Calvet in Avignon (inv. 996-7-324, see Dessins de la donation Marcel Puech au musée Calvet, Avignon, Naples, Paparo, Paris, RMN, 1988, edited by Sylvie Béguin, Mario Di Giampaolo and Philippe Malgouyres, no. 13), while the drawing here, once thought to have a link with the Steccata church, turns out when closely examined to come from a later, more advanced phase in the artist’s activity. Among the works belonging to the city of Parma, a fragment from a silk standard painted on both sides, which can be attributed to Michelangelo Anselmi – currently exhibited in the city art gallery –, has recently been rediscovered. This fragment literally reproduces the composition of the drawing now in Paris. Archive documents indicate among other things that in 1550, Michelangelo Anselmi painted a city standard with the “Beata Vergine Coronata” (the Blessed Crowned Virgin), for the arrival in Parma of Duke Ottavio Farnese’s wife, Margaret of Austria. The Crowned Virgin had been considered Parma’s protector since mediaeval times; her image on the city’s standard was accompanied by the motto “Hostis turbetur quia Parmam Virgo tuetur” (“Let foes tremble, for the Virgin protects Parma”). The damaged stamp in the centre of the drawing (which features a crossed escutcheon surmounted by a crown), very similar to the Duchy of Parma’s, seems to confirm a link between the drawing here and the standard of 1550.


Elisabetta Fadda


Dry stamp (not in Lugt) above the Virgin’s crown
Old inscription, “Pignone”, on the back of the lining paper



Brussels, Jean Willems Gallery; Brussels, private collection



Jean Willems, Master Drawings from the 16th to the 19th Century, 1987, no. 22, p. 26 (as Francesco Albani)
Elisabetta Fadda, Michelangelo Anselmi, Turin, Umberto Allemandi, 2004, pp. 83-84, fig. 22 p. 86, note 26 p. 93
Elisabetta Fadda, “Michelangelo Anselmi alla Steccata : 1521-1554”, in Santa Maria della Steccata a Parma. Da chiesa civica a basilica magistrale dell’Ordine costantiniano, edited by Bruno Adorni, Milan, Skira, 2008, p. 205

Two Goats

Nicolas Poussin
Les Andelys 1594 – Rome 1665

Pen and brown ink
H. 10.5 cm
L. 17 cm

We propose attributing this extremely clean-lined drawing to Nicolas Poussin. Probably a fragment of a larger drawing, it is very certainly a copy of an antique motif, which we have been unable to identify. The firm line, which breaks off in certain places, and the extremely rapid way of indicating the eyes with a simple stroke are found in several drawings between 1635 and 1637: A Man Healing a Lion (Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts; see Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat, Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665, catalogue raisonné of drawings, vol. I, Milan, Leonardo, 1994, no. 130), Sheet of Studies after the Antique, Inspired by Reading Pliny (Paris, Prat Collection; see Rosenberg/Prat, op. cit., no. 131, who mention the “firm pen and the succinct way in which the figures are depicted”), The Satyr and the Peasant (Paris, private collection; Rosenberg-Prat, op. cit., no. 192), and Christ with St Peter (Saint Petersburg, Hermitage; Rosenberg-Prat, op. cit., no. 244). The fact that these examples are copies of antique monuments (and we have not cited them all) supports our theory that the sketch here is also a copy of some detail in a mosaic or bas-relief.

The Virgin and Child Appearing to St Christina of Bolsena

Antonio Bicchierari
1688 – Rome – 1766

Pen and brown ink, brown wash, squared in black chalk
Fully glued, border rule in bistre wash
H. 31 cm
L. 22.6 cm

Bicchierari’s best-known work to date is undoubtedly The Apotheosis of St Louis, painted in fresco on the ceiling of the San Luigi dei Francesi Church in 1756 to a design by Natoire. Bicchierari worked for several prominent Roman patrons (the Albani, Borghese, Ruspoli and Colonna families and Cardinal Ottoboni) and in a number of major churches, the best-known being the basilicas of Santa Prassede and Santa Maria degli Angeli. However, most of his work consisted of temporary decorations for beatification, canonisation and Quarantore ceremonies, which were destroyed when they were no longer needed. Nonetheless, their memory is preserved in an album of drawings now in the Gabinetto delle Stampe e Disegni in Rome, which also contains drawings of decorative work in the Palazzo della Consulta and Palazzo Colonna, and other completed projects.


In an email of 11 January 2015, Mrs Angela Negro (for whose help in describing this drawing we are deeply grateful) suggests the third decade of the 18th century as a date, and compares it with two preparatory drawings for the frescoes on the lives of St Cosmas and St Damian in Rome’s Gesù Nazareno Church (see Angela Negro, “Antonio Bicchierai fra pittura d’apparato e grande decorazione”, Storia dell’Arte, no. 87, 1996, pp. 206-234, fig. 6, 7). She also indicates that as St Christina of Bolsena was not particularly venerated in Rome, the patron for a possible pala d’altare, for which this drawing is a sketch, would more likely have come from Bolsena itself – such as the musician and singer Andrea Adami, a member of the household of Bicchierari’s patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1689-1740). She also says that the inscription “Bicchierari” matches documents of the time, while the artist has always been referred to as “Bicchierai” since then.


Like most of the published drawings (as well as the above-mentioned article by Angela Negro we can also cite Elisa Debenedetti’s “Un inedito ciclo di Antonio Bicchierai a palazzo Colonna (1746)”, in Studi sul Settecento Romano, no. 25, 2009, pp. 139-150), the composition is outlined in pen, leaving a wide margin around the drawing.


“Del Bicchierari” written on the bottom left in pen and brown ink

Woman Brandishing a Dagger

Étienne Jeaurat
Vermenton 1699 – Versailles 1789

Black chalk and white chalk on beige paper
H. 26.5 cm
L. 22.2 cm

In our view, this drawing, which has strong stylistic similarities with studies of figures now known to be by Jeaurat, must be a preparatory sketch for a 1733 reception piece by the artist, Pyramus and Thisbe (now in the Musée Joseph-Déchelette in Roanne), and more precisely, the figure of Thisbe committing suicide on the body of her lover. Considerable variants can be seen in the position of the arms (the right arm draws a modest drapery over her bosom in the painting), legs and head. This is raised heavenwards in the painting, and turned towards the dagger in the drawing here.


Now much admired for his marvellous Roman landscapes on blue-green paper with their highly effective use of white gouache, and for his scenes of Parisian life (Prostitutes Being Taken to Hospital; Carnival in the Streets of Paris, Musée Carnavalet), Jeaurat nonetheless had a highly official career at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which culminated in 1781 with his appointment as Chancellor. He worked for the King (presenting four works on the story of Daphnis and Chloe at the 1745 Salon, for example) as well as for the Church (Adoration of the Sacred Heart and Joseph’s Dream for Saint Louis Cathedral, Versailles), and for Les Gobelins (The Village Wedding, Salon of 1753). An archetypal product of the Ancien Régime, he died in December 1789, shortly after the royal family returned to Paris.


Jeaurat returned to the theme of Pyramus and Thisbe at the end of his career in a wash drawing of 1782, with a matching piece, Diana and Endymion, both now in a private Swiss collection (see the catalogue of La Tentation du dessin, Vevey, 2012, nos. 98-99).

Three Children, One Holding a Cornucopia

Charles-Joseph Natoire
Nîmes 1700 – Castelgandolfo 1777

H. 16 cm
L. 24 cm

A pupil of Lemoyne like his rival Boucher, Natoire obtained the Prix de Rome in 1721, and stayed from 1723 to 1728 in the Eternal City. On his return to France, he received major commissions for the royal residences of Versailles, Marly and Fontainebleau, and for several Paris churches. In 1751, he returned to Rome as Director of the Académie de France, a position he held until his death.


This drawing has several close similarities with a painting of Autumn (Susanna Caviglia-Brunel, Charles-Joseph Natoire, Paris, Arthena, 2012, p. 74), except that in the painting, the child on the left is offering grapes to a goat, and on the right, the background is taken up by a cask. The date proposed, c. 1735, is probably that of this sanguine as well.

Womans Head

Charles-Joseph Natoire
Nîmes 1700 – Castelgandolfo 1777

Black chalk, sanguine and white chalk on blue paper
H. 23 cm
L. 18.8 cm
(27.5 x 21 cm with mount)

A pupil of Lemoyne like his rival Boucher, Natoire obtained the Prix de Rome in 1721, and stayed from 1723 to 1728 in the Eternal City. On his return to France, he received major commissions for the royal residences of Versailles, Marly and Fontainebleau, and for several Paris churches. In 1751, he returned to Rome as Director of the Académie de France, a position he held until his death.


This drawing is a highly detailed study for the woman on horseback in the painting Figures Resting by a Fountain, which Natoire delivered in 1737 for the small dining room of Louis XV’s Petits Appartements at Fontainebleau, and is now in a private collection (Susanna Caviglia-Brunel, Charles-Joseph Natoire, Paris, Arthena, 2012, p. 83).


Claude-Guillaume Debesse, a friend of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (who mentions him in his Confessions) and Jean Georges Wille (who cites him in his Memoirs and Journal of J.-G. Wille, Engraver to the King), owned another drawing by Natoire, no. 135 in his post-mortem sale: “A coloured drawing in the form of a pendant, showing the goddesses of Beauty and Youth. This piece must be a study for part of a ceiling.” This has not been identified to date. Some of the drawings in the Debesse collection passed into the Saint-Morys collection and subsequently to the Louvre, together with the entire collection confiscated during the Revolution, while others are now in the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.


Pen and brown ink inscription on the bottom left: “Natoir”



Former collection of Claude-Guillaume Debesse (d. before 1786), featuring his initials on the back (L.729), his sale on 12 January 1786 (and the following days), part of lot no. 236: “eleven drawings by Natoire, Watteau, Pater, Fr. Boucher and others”, p. 38 of the catalogue (A. J. Paillet, Catalogue des dessins montés et en feuilles qui composent le cabinet de feu M. Debesse, architecte).

Scene from Roman History

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée, dit l’Aîné
1725 – Paris – 1805

Pen and black ink, grey wash, white highlights on paper with bistre wash
H. 16.8 cm
L. 22.3 cm

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée the Elder’s long and illustrious career covered the entire second half of the 18th century. He first studied with Carle van Loo, and won the Prix de Rome in 1749, but only spent a year (in 1754) at the Académie de France in Rome. On his return in 1755, he was admitted to the Paris Académie, later becoming its rector in 1784. He was invited by the Empress Elizabeth to St Petersburg, where he was her principle painter at the Academy there from 1760 to 1762. He returned to Rome between 1781 and 1785 as Director of the Académie de France. He was a prolific artist (maintaining a commonplace book with no fewer than 457 numbers), who fulfilled commissions for the Church, the King and a large private international clientele alike.


We have not been able to firmly identity the subject of the drawing here. Joseph Assémat-Tessandier, whom we thank for his assistance, suggests Ventidius Meets Antony in Liguria (at Vada Sabatia on 3 May 43 BC): an episode in the war between Mark Antony and Octavian after Caesar’s assassination.


Signed and dated on the bottom right “Lagrenée 1760”

Cupid Binding the Eyes of a Woman

Jean-Jacques Lagrenée,
dit le Jeune

1739 – Paris – 1821

Pen and black ink, grey wash
H. 23.9 cm
L. 36.4 cm

Jean-Jacques Lagrenée was nicknamed “the Younger” to distinguish him from his brother and teacher Louis-Jean-François, known as “the Elder”, who was fourteen years older. The two brothers spent a period in Russia from 1760 to 1762, when Louis-Jean-François was invited there by the Empress Elizabeth. Jean-Jacques was authorised to stay at the Académie de France in Rome from 1763 to 1768, although he had only obtained second prize for painting in 1760. Accredited in 1769, he exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1771 to 1804, and was finally admitted to the Académie in 1775, when he presented Winter for the Apollo Gallery ceiling in the Louvre. In 1776, he was appointed deputy professor at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, then full professor in 1781: a title confirmed in 1795. In 1785, the General Director of the Bâtiments du Roi appointed him co-artistic director at the Sèvres porcelain factory – a position he held until 1800. His designs included the forms and patterns of the tableware for the Queen’s Dairy at Rambouillet.


This period is the one we propose as a date for this drawing, given its similarity to ones now in the Sèvres factory archives: appealing mythological subjects drawn with a light touch in black ink with grey wash highlights, reminiscent of engraved Etruscan mirrors. The furniture depicted is similar to models that appear in the Collection of Drawings of Compositions after Antiquity, Reproduced Using the Polytype Technique, published by the artist in 1784, together with numerous drawings of antique fragment compositions.

Landscape with Mill

Louis-Gabriel Moreau, dit Moreau l'Aîné
1740 – Paris – 1806

Gouache with watercolour on carton
Diam. 11.5 cm

A pupil of the Vedutist Pierre Antoine Demachy (1703-1807), Moreau first exhibited in 1760. He was admitted to the Académie de Saint Luc in 1764, but rejected twice by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, in 1787 and 1788. As “Painter in Ordinary” to the Comte d’Artois, he lived in the Louvre, and when the museum was created, became a curator and picture restorer there. Before the Revolution, he regularly exhibited at Salons with landscapes of the Paris region and ruins, borrowing motifs from engraving collections. He developed a particular sensibility similar to certain English artists, which led to his being considered a forerunner of the following century’s ‘open air’ landscapists.


Features the initials “L.M.” on the bottom right

The Monk Smoking in the Sacristy

Eugène Delacroix
Charenton-Saint-Maurice 1798 – Paris 1863

Grey wash, brown wash
H. 20 cm
L. 15.8 cm

Between 9 and 29 May 1832, Delacroix stayed in Andalusia, exploring Seville, Cadiz and Jerez de la Frontera, among other places. A number of notes in his Album d’Afrique du Nord et d’Espagne from this period, now in the Louvre (RF 1712 bis), together with other separate drawings, provide information on the monuments he visited and the people he met. A note, “The monk smoking in the sacristy”, on the Louvre’s watercolour Galerie du couvent des dominicains à Cadix (RF 9255), has prompted Louis-Antoine Prat (for whose aid in describing this work we are sincerely grateful) to link it with the figure in this drawing. We know from notes in the above-mentioned album that the artist visited the Dominican Convent on Sunday 20 May in the morning, and found the church very beautiful.


Étienne Arago (Perpignan 1802 – Paris 1892) was a writer and politician, the founder of Le Figaro, director of the Théâtre du Vaudeville, director of the Post Office (we owe him the use of the stamp), briefly Mayor of Paris in 1870, and director of the Musée du Luxembourg. The catalogue for the sale of his collection includes several works by Delacroix, but their precise descriptions do not match this wash drawing. However, the inscription on the back of the frame seems to be “authentic”; probably several works were sold that did not feature in the catalogue.


Stamp of the post-mortem sale (17-29 February 1864) on the bottom centre (L.838 a); part of lot no. 585: “Costumes of matadors, monks, etc./Interiors of sacristies, galleries, courtyards, etc./Various studies, sketches with watercolour highlights, etc./103 separate drawings”.


Written on the back of the frame: “drawing bought at the sale of the collection of Etienne Arago/curator of the Musée du Luxembourg/Hotel Drouot 5 May 1892”.

The Banks of the Rance

François Bonvin
Vaugirard 1817 – Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1887

Pencil; a few sanguine highlights
H. 15.8 cm
L. 30.4 cm

From a very early age, as his talents had impressed a town councillor of Montrouge, where he lived, François Bonvin studied drawing at the École Municipale de Dessin in Paris. He remained there for two years until around 1830, after which, to provide for his family's needs, he became a typesetter and was then employed at the police headquarters in 1839. In 1843, through the intervention of his doctor, he returned to the drawing school, frequently visiting museums, the Gobelins and the Académie Suisse. Shortly afterwards he was presented to Granet, who encouraged him to study Old Masters, especially the Dutch Golden Age painters. He first exhibited at the Salon in 1847 with a portrait, and became a regular participant, with much-acclaimed genre scenes. As a friend of Courbet, he took part in the first Salon des Refusés in 1863. He is considered one of the chief exponents of Realism and a forerunner of the Impressionists. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out on 19 July 1870, Bonvin decided to leave the country for England, like many artists. He stayed in Dinan from 28 August to 7 November, where he produced “a number of study works and gave a few lessons, which helped to eke out the small sum I had brought with me from Saint-Germain” (Bonvin’s notebooks, quoted by Gabriel P. Weisberg, Bonvin, Paris, Éditions Geoffroy-Dechaume, 1979, p. 98). These works were mainly still lifes and a small book of sketches, which he drew on subsequently in London for paintings of Breton subjects. The drawing here, whose site has been identified by Armelle and Serge Davy (to whom we are deeply grateful) – the port of Yvet en Rance, at Saint-Samson-sur-Rance, close to Dinan – was made into an etching in 1871 by the artist himself for a collection published by Cadart in 1874. (This etching was reproduced by Étienne Moreau-Nélaton in Bonvin raconté par lui-même, Paris, Henri Laurens, 1927, fig. 63.)


Marked “Dinan” on the bottom right, signed and dated “Bonvin 1870”

The Return from the Conference

Gustave Courbet
Ornans 1819 – La Tour-de-Peilz (Switzerland) 1877

Watercolour on light brown stiff paper
H. 23.3 cm
L. 33.4 cm

The Return from the Conference represents the acme of Courbet’s anti-clerical and anti-academic period. In 1862-1863, he also worked on a painting entitled The Hippocrene Spring, in which the personification of the mythical spring is shown spitting into it. This was a deliberate mocking of Ingres’s or of the academic taste in general imbued with veneration for an innocent antiquity, while the first picture criticised the clergy and their collaboration with Napoleon III. Courbet began to paint the final version of this large painting in December 1862, which he mentioned in a letter to Léon Isabey: “At the moment, I am working on a crucial picture for the next exhibition. This painting will make the whole country laugh, especially me. It’s the most grotesque picture that’s ever been seen in painting.” He also told his parents that this would be a work of political opposition.


Tradition has it that the subject of The Return from the Conference was inspired by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, whom Courbet knew at least from 1847. However, there are no documents to back up this theory. Rather, the philosopher seems to have been influenced by the painter. On 9 August 1863, Proudhon wrote, “At the moment, I am much involved in my work on art […]. It’s all about Courbet’s painting with the priests, which was rejected for the Exhibition.”


Courbet spent a period in Saintonge from 1862 to 1863. Despite this move, both the painting and the watercolour here feature the landscape of the Franche-Comté, with the steep limestone cliffs typical of Courbet’s and Proudhon’s native region. The centre of the composition is taken up with a group of drunken priests, the fattest of whom is mounted on a donkey – adding further provocation in parodying Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Behind this group stand three other priests, also clearly tipsy. On either side we see villagers and peasants, one of them doubled up with laughter.


The painting no longer exists. Intended for exhibition at the Salon of 1863, it was rejected because it insulted the Catholic Church, and was even refused by the Salon des Refusés, an institution created the same year at the Emperor’s initiative. But Courbet advertised it widely, and had it engraved. One of these engravings is now in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Print Department. There are also two painted sketches, one in the Kunstmuseum Basel, the other in a private collection, in addition to a drawing in the Musée Courbet in Ornans, copied from the painting by an unknown artist. Courbet later produced a whole series of Tipsy Priests as well, engraved on end-grain wood and published in Brussels in 1868 (reprinted in 1884). Meanwhile, the painting itself, after being sold in late 1881 at the Hôtel Drouot, then exhibited at the Georges Petit Gallery, fell into the hands of an outraged Catholic at the end of the century, who bought it specifically to destroy it on the spot. However, a photograph of it has come down to us.


To establish the role played in the painting by the drawing here in this context, we should first emphasise that it is signed “Courbet” and dated “June 1862”. The writing has merged with the coloured layers of the watercolour, whose flow, especially in the landscape, is very similar to what we know of Courbet’s style (even though we have very few watercolours by him, apart from a few wash drawings). Is it possible that Corot, whom Courbet met in Saintonge, encouraged him to try out this technique? Whatever the truth of the matter, there is no reason to doubt that the original watercolour, before it was covered with a drawing is indeed by Courbet.


But what part did this vibrant, magnificently coloured sketch play in the creative process of the picture? To begin with, the perfection of the landscape, containing trees, a fortified castle, a church and a few slender figures in the background (details that differ from the painting) suggests that this sketch was not a preparatory drawing; nor was it simply copied from the finished picture, given its differences with the painting. But then, apart from the fresh, generous lines of the landscape and cassocks, which match Courbet’s style in every particular, we find different, sharper and more detailed strokes delineating the faces. This meticulousness is untypical of Courbet, who far from outlining features in minute detail, brought them to life through colour itself. He did not draw his faces: he painted them. So in terms of attribution, we must assume, in view of this particularity, that the faces were reworked by someone else, whose concern was to detail the comical expressions of the characters. What could have been the reason for this? It would seem that the second draughtsman worked on it in this way to reproduce the painting through engraving, wishing to “polish up” the composition with this in mind. However, the drawing here was not the model for the only existing engraving of this scene – as witness, for example (and this is only one detail), the priest on the far right who has lost his hat. This is an old man in a wig with an innocent smile in the watercolour, while the corresponding figure in the engraving and in the painting is younger, with a more rustic look and a somewhat sulky expression. We can thus assume that the zealous draughtsman in question was competing with the engraver who was finally chosen.


To conclude, this is incontestably a sketch by Courbet dating from his Saintonge period, in which the faces have been reworked later by another artist with the aim of ensuring absolute clarity in the subject and the figures.

Klaus Herding


Signed and dated “Courbet/June 1862” on the bottom right


Bonniot, Roger, Gustave Courbet en Saintonge 1862-1863. Scènes de la vie artistique en province sous le Second Empire, Paris, 1973, second, revised edition, Paris, C. Klincksieck, 1986
Bowness, Alan, “Courbet’s Proudhon”, Burlington Magazine, CXX, 1978, no. 900, pp. 123-128
Chu Ten-Doesschate, Petra, Correspondance de Courbet, Paris, Flammarion, 1996, letters 62-13, 63-2, 63-4, 63-16 and 64-2
Fernier, Robert, Gustave Courbet, catalogue raisonné, 2 volumes, Lausanne/Paris, La Bibliothèque des Arts, 1977-1978, vol. I, nos. 238-240 (nos. 239 and 240 being mixed up); vol. II, drawing section, no. 63
Herding, Klaus, “Pourquoi lire ‘l’esthésie’ de Proudhon ?”, Gazette des beaux-arts, 130th year, vol. CXI, 1988, no. 1428/1429, pp. 103-108
Herding, Klaus, “Proudhon, Courbet, Zola : un étrange débat”, Proudhon, anarchisme, art et société, Papers of the symposium of the P.-J. Proudhon society (Paris, 2 December 2000), Paris, 2001, pp. 15-62
Herding, Klaus, Le Réalisme comme contradiction. Visions, conflits et résistances dans l’oeuvre de Courbet (with contributions from T. J. Clark, W. Hofmann, M. Nungesser and L. Nochlin), Besançon, Les Éditions du Sekoya, 2013, pp. 158-160
Le Men, Ségolène, Gustave Courbet, Paris, Citadelles & Mazenod, 2007, p. 303
Rubin, James H., Realism and Social Vision in Courbet and Proudhon, Princeton University Press, 1980

Study of Woman with Raised Arm

Paul-Louis Delance
1848 – Paris – 1924

Pastel on paper
H. 46.6 cm
L. 30.2 cm

A pupil of Gérôme at the École des Beaux-arts, Delance obtained an honourable mention at the Salon of 1880, and became an Associate of the Salon of French Artists. The following year, his patriotic painting The Return of the Flag (Musée de Senlis) garnered him a bronze medal, and in 1888 he obtained the much-coveted first class medal for The Legend of Saint Denis (Musée de Douai). His work is full of subjects from “modern life”, alternating nostalgic depictions of elegant ladies with more plebeian themes, including The Nursemaids’ Bench at Saint-Valéry, A Strike at Saint-Ouen (Musée d’Orsay), and The Construction of the Eiffel Tower, January 1889 (Musée Carnavalet). He also produced religious paintings, and provided the interior decoration for the newly-built Church of Notre-Dame in Oloron-Sainte-Marie (1895 to 1899).


This is a preparatory drawing for one of the foreground figures in a large painting (211 x 327 cm) produced in 1883, The Departure of the Conscripts, Gare d’Austerlitz (exhibited at the Didier Aaron Gallery, New York, in 1978).


Bottom left corner reworked


Signed “Paul Delance” in pencil on the bottom left

Nativity / Madonna and Child

Jean Lambert-Rucki
Krakow 1888 – Paris 1967

Nativity (front)
Indian ink

Madonna and Child (back)
Watercolour over pencil lines

H. 63.5 cm
L. 45.8 cm

After initially studying in his native city, Jean Lambert-Rucki moved to Paris in 1911, attracted by the artistic vitality of Montparnasse. Here he rediscovered his friend and compatriot, Moïse Kisling. During the first part of his career, he was considerably influenced by Modigliani, Cubism, Egyptian and African art and that of Byzantium, discovered during the war in Salonica. He exhibited at Léonce Rosenberg’s “L’Effort Moderne” gallery with artists of the “Golden Section” group, and collaborated with Jean Dunand on various lacquered panels and screens. In 1931 he joined the UAM (Union of Modern Artists), with whom he worked in 1938 during the building of the Notre-Dame-des-Trois-Ave Basilica in Blois, designed by the architect Paul Rouvière. Work was interrupted during the war, and it was finally completed in 1948. After this, the artist took part in numerous religious art projects both in France and abroad.


In 1943 (from 26 January to 13 February, to be precise), an exhibition of his work was staged at the Drouant-David Gallery in Paris (52 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré), including a drawing entitled The Stable, though we have no further details. Could it have been the one here, with the Holy Family taking shelter in the stable at Bethlehem and the shepherds standing reverently outside, guided by the star shining above the scene? There is no supporting evidence, but it is tempting to think so. The watercolour on the back has numerous similarities with the bronze statuettes still produced today by the Chéret company (Place Saint-Sulpice), for which the artist began to work in 1932.


Nativity (front)
Signed and dated “J. Lambert-Rucki 35” on the top right

Première image