Engraved frontis. (faint dampstaining to top of image). xvi, 162, 16 pp. of sale schedule. 8vo, 19th-cent. sheep (short cracks to head & foot of upper joints), but sturdy), spine gilt, red leather lettering-piece on spine. Paris: Langlier, Lebrun & Julliot fils; London: Greenwood; Amsterdam: P. Fouquet junior; Brussels: de Roy: 1780.
A scarce and important sale catalogue, not just for the contents described, but for the expert Jean Baptiste Pierre Lebrun’s essay “Réflexions sur la Peinture et la Sculpture” — its only appearance in print — which functions as the catalogue introduction. Our copy is priced throughout in a contemporary hand for all 276 lots of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Lebrun (1748-1813), the prominent Parisian art dealer, leading connoisseur of Dutch and Flemish art, and husband of the court painter Vigée Lebrun, played an outsized role in the creation of the Louvre. He was essential in the compilation of desiderata lists for the French confiscations of art in conquered territories throughout Europe. Aspiring to exert greater influence on the arts in France and on its national museum, Lebrun launched a series of treatises on the fine arts; these pamphlets are all very rare. We are aware of three publications by this powerful dealer: Observations sur le Muséum National (1793); Essai sur les moyens d’encourager la peinture… (ca. 1794); and Quelques Idées sur la Disposition, L'Arrangement et la Décoration du Museum national… (1794/5). The present “Réflexions” is overlooked since it only appeared in a sale catalogue. In this piece, Lebrun pontificates on the classical origins of painting and sculpture, and how pictures and sculptures are valued in contemporary society as assets and symbols of power.
Poullain (n.d.), in charge of tax collection in France, was himself an amateur painter and collected works by Veronese, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Metsu, etc. He developed a close friendship with the painter Casanova, who advised him on his collecting. Poullain amassed an especially rich group of Flemish paintings, as well as several Claudes. Many of the paintings came from the cabinets of the Comte de Bruhl, Blondel de Gagny, the Prince de Conti, Lubbeling, Randon de Boisset, the Comtesse de Verrue, the Duc de Choiseul, Braamkamp, and the Prince de Carignan.
A very good copy of this scarce auction catalogue, with useful contemporary annotations; it also contains a valuable contemporary account of the art market by one of its principal movers and shakers. Some minor rubbing to the extremities.
❧ Lugt 3106.
Item ID: 8210