National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 6, 1982-1983 

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Click figure 10 here for an enlarged image

Paintings by Restout on Mythological and Historical Themes: Acquisition by the National Gallery of Canada of Venus Presenting Arms to Aeneas

by Pierre Rosenberg and Antoine Schnapper

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4      

Vanished Paintings Positively Attributed to Restout

No. 101 Hector and Andromache's Farewell. Although an original painting of this composition has been found (P. Rosenberg, "Le concours de peinture de 1727," Revue de l'Art, no. 37, 1977, pp. 39 and 42, (figs 14 and 15), it is dated 1728, whereas, in theory, the canvas submitted for the competition would have been clone a year earlier. It will be remembered that, in 1783, lean-Bernard Restout exhibited a work by his father which he owned - Hector's Farewell to Andromache - at the Salon de la Correspondance, organized by Parin de la Blancherie (no. 73). Was this the same painting that was in the Calonne sale on 21 April 1788 (no. 153)? Or did Restout do two versions of this work, one for the 1727 competition, with which it seems Messelet was familiar, the other dated 1728 and the only one yet discovered. (18) The list we drew up in 1970 did not include either a copy put up for sale in Paris on 18 March 1981, no.113 (ill.; "École française, XVIIIe siècle"), or a snuff box sold at Sotheby's on 18 June 1979, which has on its cover a composition inspired by Le Vasseur's print (1769).

No. 110 The Continence of Scipio. Originally, we gave this painting a date of 1750, since Restout exhibited a painting on this theme at the 1750 Salon (no. 11). However, the painting recently surfaced at a sale by Thomas Mawer and Son at Lincoln of the contents of Rauceby Hall at South Rauceby, Lincolnshire, 28-30 September 1982, no. 832, ill. It measures 132 x 197 cm and is signed and dated 1728. It was part of the Calonne sale of 1788 (no. 154), (19) and was given the following description: "The Continence of Scipio [is] a rich composition with twenty-two figures and [is] the same size [sic, see n. 17] as the previous work [Hector and Andromache, see our no.101], for which it may [our emphasis] be used as a companion piece." The catalogue does not indicate that the painting is dated. The canvas shown at the 1750 Salon measured 121.9 x 182.8 cm, which roughly corresponds to the dimensions of the found painting. This painting was recently acquired by the Berlin museums (fig. 10).

No. 114 Mercury Teaching Cupid. This painting, of which we have only a poor photograph, belongs to a private collection in Cannes 54 x 68 cm; 1755 Salon, no. 12). It was part of the collection of the Marquis de Marigny (fig. 11).

The focus of this article was meant to be paintings on mythological or historical themes. (20) Naturally, certain discoveries have added to our knowledge of other genres, particularly the religious genre. (21) However, for the most part, the image of Restout, as it was "reconstructed" in 1970, remains the same - that of a lyrical artist, full of "fire," if not of "propriety," more at ease with large works than with smaller ones. Neither his figures, which were always in motion, nor his zigzagging compositions, had anything in common with those of his contemporaries - Carle Vanloo, Natoire, Subleyras, Boucher, and especially, his friend Chardin. However, Restout's works do at test to the amazing variety and vitality of French painting in the first half of the eighteenth century.

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