Alexandre-François Desportes (Champigneulle, Ardennes 1661 – 1743 Paris), Still life of game with a bowl of plums and peaches. Photo Sotheby’s.
signed and dated lower right: Desportes 1714, oil on canvas, 35 by 44 1/2 in.; 89 by 113 cm. Estimation 60,000 — 80,000 USD
PROVENANCE: Anonymous sale (« The Property of a Swiss Collector »), London, Sotheby’s, 8 July 1987, lot 86;
There purchased by Bernard Palitz.
LITTERATURE: P. Jacky, François Desportes (1661-1743), Monographie et Catalogue Raisonné, Paris 1999, vol. IV, p. 651;
G. de Lastic and P. Jacky, Desportes. Catalogue Raisonné, Saint-Rémy-en-l’Eau 2010, p. 145, cat. no. P 559, reproduced in color.
NOTES: Desportes was the first great French painter to specialize in animal and hunting subjects, and together with his successor Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) became the most important and influential exponent of the genre in his day. His realistic and carefully observed style owes more to the Flemish traditon in which he trained than to the lighter rococo style favored by Oudry, and the realism of his art is recorded to have greatly impressed Louis XIV. Desportes was an exact observer and made a large number of studies of animals, birds and flowers from the life. Around 1700 or shortly afterwards, he began to paint trophies of the hunt and dead game arranged with fruit and flowers and vegetables on tables or in landscape settings, of which this painting is a fine example. The combination of peaches and plums, arranged in baskets or, as here, in porcelain bowls, was evidently a favorite motif, for they recur in many of his works in this vein. The handling of the mallard and the arrangement of the fruit in a porcelain bowl can, for example, be compared to Desportes’ Still Life of Plums in a blue and white porcelain bowl together with peaches, a partridge and a woodcock and hanging mallard, sold Sotheby’s London, 8 December 2010, lot 41. In works such as this, with their combination of Flemish realism and brilliant colors and French classical principles, Desportes was to provide an immensely influential transition from the late Baroque to the Rococo.
As a young man Desportes first studied in Paris from 1674-78 with the ageing Flemish animalier Nicasius Bernaerts. In 1699 he was réçu into the Académie Royale as an animal painter, and received his first commission from Louis XIV the following year, the beginning of a period of royal patronage which was to last nearly fifty years. Appointed painter to the Royal Hunt, he continued to work for Louis XV, and among his many commissions he worked for the royal châteaux at Anet, Choisy, and Compiègne, for the Duchesse de Berry’s hunting lodge at the Château de la Muette in the Bois-de-Boulogne and for Louis-Henri, Duc de Bourbon, at Chantilly. In 1704 he was made Conseiller at the Academie and exhibited frequently at the Paris Salon until 1742.
A preparatory drawing for this picture is in the Musée de the Chasse, Gien.
Sotheby’s. Master Paintings and Sculpture: Part II. New York | 29 janv. 2015, 03:00 PM