Dissolving Lebrun’s Cabinet

Catalogue d’une Collection de Tableaux capitaux, des Ecoles d’Italie, d’Espagne, de Flandre, de Hollande, d’Allemagne et de France; de Dessins, Terres cuites, Ivoires, Marbres, Bronzes, Antiquités, et riches Meubles du célèbre Boule, provenant du Cabinet de feu…Rédigé par feu Al. Paillet…La vente, qui se fera sous la direction de Mrs. Constantin et Paillet fils, aura lieu le 23 mai 1814, et jours suivans [rescheduled for the 26th]…

72 pp. Small 8vo (200 x 125 mm.), cont. pink paper wrappers bound in late 19th-cent. aubergine calf-backed marbled boards, spine gilt. Paris: Constantin, Paillet, Chariot, 1814.

A scarce auction catalogue, fully annotated with prices and with many buyers’ names, that marks the ultimate liquidation of Lebrun’s rich personal collection and probably unsold remnants from his stock. Lebrun (1748-1813) was one of the leading art dealers of his time and erstwhile husband of the painter Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun. This copy contains contemporary marginal annotations, as well as late 19th-century additions filling in the gaps.

Alexandre Joseph Paillet, Lebrun’s principal rival, initially compiled this catalogue, and after his death, his son Charles undertook this catalogue’s final publication in collaboration with Guillaume Jean Constantin. At the beginning of this volume, there is a valuable biography of Lebrun, with details of his fascinating life and many accomplishments.

The present catalogue describes 384 lots of paintings (by Asselijn, Bourdon, Bega, Boucher, Correggio, Canaletto, H. Fragonard, Guercino, Jordaens, Vigée Lebrun, Lebrun himself, Metsu, A. van Ostade, van Poelenburgh, Rembrandt, Rubens, Teniers, Tintoretto, Velázquez, Wouwerman); drawings, miniatures, gouaches, and pastels; prints; furniture by Boulle; porcelain, bronze, marble, and terra cotta sculpture; and miscellaneous antiquities and curiosities. Next to every painting description and many lots of drawings, the annotators have recorded the hammer price and the purchasers. Among the buyers, we find the names of prominent dealers such as Constantin, Lafontaine, Paillet, and Le Rouge. Lot 81, a painting by Vigée Lebrun known today as Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, sold for more than seven million dollars at a January 2019 Sotheby’s auction.

A fine copy of this momentous sale catalogue, containing very useful provenance information. With the amusing engraved bookplate of [H]enry [Pannier]; stamp of the Bibliothèque Heim; and blind stamp of the Parisian bookseller Louis Soullié on the title-page.

❧ Lugt 8523. Francis Haskell, Rediscoveries in Art: Some Aspects of Taste, Fashion & Collecting in England & France (1976), p. 21–“With hindsight we can see that Lebrun was doing something whose implications were even more revolutionary than he himself probably realized. He was the first connoisseur to break with the prevailing habit of trying to attribute as many pictures as possible to the great and established names and to insist instead on the value of rarity and unfamiliarity…”.

Price: $3,500.00

Item ID: 6933