Catalogue des Tableaux précieux des Ecoles d’Italie, de Hollande, de Flandres et de France; Dessins, Bronzes, Porcelaines, Pendules, Candelabres, et autres objets de grande Curiosité, composant le Fonds de Commerce du…dont la Vente se fera…le 4 Ventôse, An 6, (Jeudi 22 Févier [sic] 1798)…[Expert: A.J. Paillet].

38 pp. 8vo (195 x 128 mm.), late 19th-cent. brown morocco-backed marbled boards, spine gilt. Paris: Paillet, Boileau & La Fontaine, An VI [1798].

The scarce auction catalogue of a collection of paintings assembled by the artist and dealer Lafontaine (1758-1835). In a recent study, Carole Blumenfeld writes: “As early as 1796, Lafontaine organized two initial sales without catalog at the Hôtel de Bullion…during the course of 1798, he effected a clear change in his commercial strategy, appreciably reducing the proportion of French artists between his two sales, in January and December, and investing the profits from the first sale in Holland over the ensuing months.”–p. 220.

Although she does not mention the present sale, her assertion that Lafontaine intended to liquidate much of his stock matches the explanation given by the author of the Avant-Propos, likely Paillet. He states (in trans.): “Everyone knows that around ten years ago he left an Art in which he held a rather distinguished rank, in order to deliver himself to the speculation of Commerce. He has determined today to abandon Commerce to return to the gentler occupation of his Easel; and it is in view of this that he entrusted us to sell it…the product of which in advance he used in the acquisition of real estate.”

This catalogue describes 247 lots of paintings, drawings, sculptures, chandeliers, etc. The paintings include works by da Vinci, F. Mola, Canaletto, Rubens, Rembrandt, Bol, Dou, D. Teniers, Dujardin, Wouwerman, Weenix, I. van Ostade, C. Netscher, S. Bourdon, Natoire, J. Vernet, H. Robert, Greuze, J. H. Fragonard, etc. The paintings are concisely detailed and measurements are provided.

Nice copy of this rare sale catalogue; WorldCat and the Getty Provenance Index locate only one example in North America. Engraved bookplate of G[eorges] P[annier] (1853-1944), the Parisian art dealer and collector of auction catalogues, and stamp of the Bibliothèque Heim on verso of title.

❧ Lugt 5713. J. Edwards, Alexandre Joseph Paillet: Expert et marchand de tableaux à la fin du XVIIIe siècle (1996), pp. 289-90.

C. Blumenfeld, “Pierre-Joseph Lafontaine and His Exploitation of European Art Market Imbalances in Paris and London, 1795-1815“ (pp. 217-30), in S. Avery-Quash & C. Huemer, eds., London and the Emergence of a European Art Market, 1780-1820 (2019), p. 218–“Lafontaine in fact played an important role in the development of the European art market during this period beset by major upheavals. For the years 1795-1815 alone, the Getty Provenance Index records 1,690 transactions under his name in Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, and Great Britain, and demonstrates that he was drawing far superior profits from the market than his Parisian colleagues. Most importantly, he was the only Fleming equally at ease in Paris and London and the only dealer whose business survived the political vicissitudes, enabling him to continue working from the 1780s to the July Monarchy.” See this chapter for a wonderful in-depth examination of Lafontaine’s evolution from artist to titan of the European art trade.

Price: $1,950.00

Item ID: 6932