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Louis Leopold Boilly "Opera singer Angelica Catalani", important listed portrait, 1806
FINAL DISCOUNT PRICE= 12500 USD
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This portrait of a young lady boasts outstanding quality of execution, and shows her holding a music score in her left hand. It is still set into its original frame with metal nametag informing that it is a work of great Louis Leopold Boilly. The lower line on the tag also provides the work's title - "La Catalini" (sic!). Besides that, the transverse bar of the stretcher bears an old inscription (signature?) "Boilly".
This painting was included (with notice "whereabouts unknown", with title "La Musicienne" and catalogue number "2496 PM") into Boilly's catalogue raisonée published in late 2019 (see our image nr.26).
At the turn of the 19th century, the name "Catalini" (more frequently used "Catalani") was the talk of the town. We are dealing here with one of the earliest portraits of (by then already a pan-European celebrity) 26-year-old Italian opera singer Angelica Catalani (also Catalini; from 1804, officially Madame Velabreque, she continued to perform using her maiden name).
In 1806, she traveled from Lisbon to London (where she had a theatrical engagement) making a stopover in Paris. In the French capital, she gave several concerts; it is also known that during this visit, she turned down Napoleon's highly lucrative offer to sing on the stage of the Grand Opera. We are strongly convinced that it was exactly in those few months of 1806, that she sat for this portrait in Boilly's Parisian studio. Our comparison images nr.10-20 fully confirm the sitter's identity as that of Angelica Catalani.
Similarly, the highest quality of the portrait's execution, as well as its stylistic criteria and the (typical for Boilly's portrait works; see our image nr.21) size - are all doubtlessly evident of the fact that we have discovered a very important work of this famous French artist.
Our image nr.9 offers Angelica Catalani's extensive biography.
Louis-Leopold Boilly (1761 La Bassée - 1845) was a French painter. A number of his paintings vividly document the French middle-class social life of his time.
Boilly was born in La Bassée in northern France but moved to Arras at the age of seventeen to receive instruction in "trompe l'oeil" painting from Dominique Doncre (1743-1820). Seven years later Boilly moved to Paris where he exhibited in the Salon between 1791 and 1824 - receiving a gold medal in 1804.
In 1794, Boilly was condemned by the Comite de Salut Public, at the height of Terror, for the erotic undertones of his work. This offence was remedied by an eleventh-hour discovery in his home of the more patriotic Triumph of Marat (Musee des Beaux Arts, Lille) which saved him from serious penalties.
Boilly's early works tended towards a preference for amorous and moralising subjects. The Suitor's Gift is comparable to much of his work in the 1790's. His small-scale paintings with carefully mannered colouring and precise detailing recalled the work of Dutch seventeenth-century genre painters such as Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667), Willem van Mieris and Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681), of whose work Boilly owned an important collection. After 1794, Boilly began to produce far more crowded compositions that which serve as social chronicals. Boilly was also well respected for his portraiture, producing many portraits of the middle classes and other famous contemporaries.
Our images nr.22-24 show three other portraits by Louis Leopold Boilly that were offered at the international art auction market in the last years.
- auction sale, Paris (Chevallier), 30th March 1892, Lot 2
-auction house "Galerie Bassenge", Berlin, May 26, 2017, Lot 6059 (see our image nr.25)
Condition: fairly good; cracklees
Creation Year: 1806
Measurements: UNFRAMED:21,7x16,2cm/8,5x6,4in FRAMED: 42,5x37,8cm/16,7x14,9in
Object Type: Framed oil painting
Style: Old Master paintings
Technique: oil on canvas
Inscription: verso (stretcher): old inscription "Boilly"
Creator: Louis-Leopold Boilly
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1761 La Bassée-1845
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