Connoisseur at the Artist’s Studio
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier Oil on panel
9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (24.1 x 19.1 cm)
Framed: 13 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches
Inscription: signed and dated lower left: Meissonier1859
Provenance: M. Leroy, Paris Ernst Secrétan
vente Secretan, Paris, 1 Jul 1889, no. 42. Knoedler and Company (no. 56969)
Private Collection, CT (by descent since the 1920s)
Exhibited: Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, “Meissonier, “1884, no. 46.
Literature: Gréard, V. C. O., <i>Meissonier, ses souvenirs; ses entretiens precedes d’une etude sur sa vie et son oeuvre</i> (Paris and London, Hachette 1897); p. 231.
Note: cf: Amateur de tableaux chez un peintre, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille (P607) The present work, Connoisseur at the Artist's Studio, was completed in 1859, as Meissonier was at the height of his production of genre scenes of 17th-century life. The view depicts an artist in his studio, displaying a newly completed work to a gentleman. The figures stand before the easel, the artist in his smock with palette and brushes in hand, and the gentleman in an elegant red cape and his broad hat in hand, head cocked to one side as he studies the freshly painted canvas. Although the figures are dressed in antique costume, the scene is set in Meissonier's own studio. On the wall directly above the figures is Meissonier's Samson combatting the Philistines of c. 1845 (Musée d'Orsay) and a bust-length painting of a woman recognizable from photos of the artist's studio in Paris and included in the posthumous inventory of the studio under the title "Ecole italienne, femme torse nu." A great number of Meissonier's paintings were reproduced as engravings during the artist's lifetime. Ever the perfectionist, Meissonier often repainted his compositions in grisaille, thus ensuring that the engraver would accurately reproduce the work in black and white. Meissonier completed a grisaille of the present work in 1860, which is now housed in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille. The grisaille was included in the Ernest Meissonier retrospective exhibition held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon in 1993. The catalogue describes the work as a "replique of a first version in colors, now lost, of which one finds a trace in the vente Secretan in 1889."
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