Thursday, 22 September 2016

"L. Clary" is Eugène Clary, sitter is Suzanne Valadon

Ribeyre, division of Drouot from France, sells on 23 September 2016 a "French School, 1900, signed L. Clary" portrait estimated at 180 to 220 Euro.

The signature doesn't start with an L but with a stylized E, for Eugène Clary, French landscape painter (1856-1929). It can be compared with other signatures from him (the middle two seem to be somewhat older than this work, which is probably from around 1900).

Another portrait (or genre scene with female presence, these aren't really portraits of course) by him was sold at Sotheby's this year for £20,000, but that one was a lifesize work while the one for sale is small (55 by 36cm), which usually is reflected in the value. It is a more lively work, with the birds, but to me it is less appealing.

More interesting is a work by Clary in the Musée d'Orsay, in Paris. This work clearly shows the same model, in a very similar pose (and similar dimensions) as well. It is a ca. 1887 portrait of Suzanne Valadon, famous model for the avant-garde in Paris at the time, who can also be seen in works by Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and so on. She was a good painter in her own right, and the mother of Utrillo, so truly a central figure in the Paris art scene then.

The depiction for sale here, with Suzanne holding a flower, may be a reference to the story of Ophelia: I have found that Clary exhibited an Ophélie at the 1886 Salon, but I haven't found an image of it so whether the painting for sale is related is pure speculation at the moment. 

This work indicates how Clary was at first a rather progressive and interesting painter, before he became a more conventional landscape painter (more boring now, but presumably more profitable then). Compared to e.g. the work from Sotheby's, the one for sale is much better, vigorously painted.

The painting should be worth 2,000 Euro at least.

UPDATE: wow, sold for 7.200 Euro!

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