In 1992 Rochat discovered an overlooked large painting of The Rape of Europe by Michel DeSubleay (French, 1602-1668), named in Italian Michele DeSubleo, the head of the studio of Guido Reni in Bologna and half brother to Nicolas Regnier (or Niccolo Renieri), working later in Venice and Parma. The work is now in a private collection in Italy and is illustrated in color in La Scuola di Guido Reni by Emilio Negro and Massimo Pirondini, 1992, page 214 (Pesaro) and page 231, fig.218 and it is fully illustrated in color and described in the lavishcatalogue raisonne by Dr. Alberto Cottino (2001) on this very interesting artist (color illustration XXXI and page 123, number 57).
Again, in 1994 Gui Rochat discovered another important large painting by Michele DeSubleo, Herodias Presented By a Page With the Head of Saint John the Baptist (in the catalogue raisonne by Dr. Cottino, page 85, color illustration XXXIV and page 128, number 64). This beautiful painting is fully described in all the literature as being lost but mentioned in DeSubleo’s testament of 1668 (Thieme-Becker: vol. 9, p. 157, Milantoni 1991: page 453, etc.). It is now also in a private collection in Italy.
He found in 1993 a significant large oil study on paper (106 by 100 cm) by Antoine Rivalz (French, 1667-1735), The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, painted in Rome circa 1695 for a lost altar piece commissioned for a church in Toulouse. It was inspired by The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus by Nicolas Poussin in the Vatican. The oil study was acquired by the prestigious Musee des Augustins in Toulouse, Francefrom where this artist came and was published and illustrated in color in the Revue du Louvre et des Musees de France in their issue of December 1999, page 77, number 12 as a significant addition to the collections of the French museums.This painting featured in an exhibition at the Musee Dupuy in Toulouse, from October 20, 2004 to January 17, 2005 (exhibition catalogue, Antoine Rivalz, le Romain de Toulouse by Jean Penent, 2004, p. 43 illustrated large in color, p. 47 and catalogue raisonne pp. 144-145, number 43, illustrated in color).
Also in 1993 he sold to a private collection in Genova, Italy a newly attributed and very interesting large canvas: Tobit Burying the Dead in Babylon, by Salvatore Castiglione (Italian, 1617-1656), who was the younger brother of the more famous Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, named Il Grechetto, both working for the Duke of Mantua at the time. The attribution was fully supported and the painting will be included by Prof. Timothy Standring in his forthcoming book on the whole Castiglione family of artists from Genova in the mid-seventeenth century.
In a private collection is now a re-discovered small work by the fantastical early eighteenth century ‘Orientaliste’ artist Jacques Vigoureux-Duplessis (French, ca. 1700-1730), one of whose larger works in America hangs in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD. It depicts: A Chinese Emperor With his Concubines Inspecting his Fantasy Fishing Fleet and is of incomparable charm and remained in its original carved gilt wooden frame of palm leaves (1993). It was apparently adapted in the eighteenth century to a decoration on a sidepanel of a sedan chair advertised by a well-known French antiques firm in Apollo magazine in 2000.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acquired in 1996 a red and black chalk drawing of high quality: A Young Woman Seated at a Table Looking Through an Optical Mirror at a Print by the artist Gijsbertus van den Berg (Dutch, 1769-1817). The drawing came from the famous collection of Rene Fribourg and had never been identified. It was published and illustrated by the Rijksmuseum in their bulletin of Summer 1997, number 3, page 239.
In 1998 Gui Rochat sold a pair of very beautiful red chalk drawings by Francois Boucher (French, 1703-1770) to the eminent Musee Fesch, the palace and famous collection of Cardinal Fesch, the uncle of Napoleon, in Ajaccio on Corsica. It was not known where these important drawings were as described and illustrated by Dr. Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, advised by Pierre Rosenberg the director of the Louvre in Paris, in her thesis on early drawings by Boucher (page247, cat. Numbers II B 3 and II B 4). They are inspired by a famous painting by the Italian artist Francesco Solimena: La Partenza di Rebecca, now in the Fesch museum but previously in the Baglioni collection in Venice where Boucher must have seen it circa 1730 on a visit till now not known to scholars. The acquisition of these delicate drawings by the Musee Fesch has been published with color illustrations in the Revue du Louvre et des Musees de France, December 2000, page 82, numbers 18 and 19, and they were published by Dr. Beverly Schreiber Jacoby in Master Drawings, vol. 39, #3, 2001. Both drawings were included in an important exhibition of Boucher’s graphic work at the Louvre in Paris for the remembrance of the artist’s 300th year date of birth: François Boucher, hier et aujourd’hui, catalogue by Françoise Joulie and Jean-François Méjanès, Musee du Louvre , 17 October 2003 till 19 January 2004, entries # 14 and # 15, pp.46-48, both illus. in color.
Among the more interesting recent discoveries in 2001 is a striking oil on paper portrait sketch of a young woman by the Flemish/French painter François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869). It is entirely in the Neoclassical style, but already moving towards Romanticism. Navez was a favorite pupil of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), which is clearly visible in the ” subtle glazes built over a ground of transparent scumbled paints as a very careful effort at a disciplined stylization and a refined technique “ (Lorenz Eitner). The full authentication comes from Dr. Denis Coekelberghs, author of Francois-Joseph Navez, la nostalgie de l’Italie, an exhibition catalogue from 1999/2000. Dr. Coekelberghs established that this vibrant portrait sketch is mentioned in Navez’s own inventory of his works kept at the Royal Library in Brussels as Une étude d’après Mademoiselle Luisa, chez M. Portaels, 1824. It has been published by Dr. Coekelberghs in an article Schnetz? Gericault ? Navez tout simplement in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris, February 2002. It is now in the National Gallery of Scotland (cf. La Tribune de l’Art, www.latribunedelart.com., Nouvelles breves 25/5/04 . Acquisitions . Edimbourg, National Gallery of Scotland).
A very fine oil sketch by François-Guillaume Menageot (1744-1816) of Achille, après avoir trainé le cadavre d’Hector, le dépose aux pieds du lit où repose le corps mort de Patrocle (Achilles, after having dragged the corpse of Hector, deposits it at the foot of the bed on which rests the dead body of Patroclus), oil on paper, laid down to canvas, size 37.5 x 46 cm., a fairly gruesome but famous passage in the Iliad, which was taken as the subject matter for the Concours du Grand Prix de Rome in 1769 (the yearly competition to spend a year in Rome for the students at the Paris Royal Academy of Art). Menageot’s 1766 Tomyris Plunging the Head of Cyrus into a Bowl of Blood (Paris, Ecole Normale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts) won the Prix de Rome and earned him a stay at the French Academy in Rome from 1769 to 1774. As Dr. Denis Coekelberghs has noted, this sketch does not follow the composition submitted by Menageot nor the dimensions that were specified by the Academy for each submission. But the vibrancy and subtle color of this oil sketch appear usual for the artist at that period of his work and can be closely compared to his 1781 Death of Leonardo da Vinci in the Arms of Francis I (Amboise, Hôtel de Ville) which displays the same warm and light coloring inherited from his master François Boucher. The charm of this oil sketch shows the taste for skillful oil sketches in the late eighteenth century. It is now in a private European collection.
A major discovery for an important client, Dr. Alfred Bader was a quite large and very beautiful Lot and His Daughters (61 7/8 by 91 3/4 in, 167 by 233 cm) by the Dutch 17th century Utrecht artist Abraham Bloemaert, fully signed and dated 1624. This significant painting was offered at Sotheby’s New York on January 22, 2004 as Attributed to Hendrick Bloemaert, the son of Abraham and a lesser painter, probably because the canvas was very dirty and the signature had been overpainted as P.P. Rubens. Nevertheless one could see here and there, in the head of the figure in the foreground and in the visible parts of the remarkable still life traces of a very high quality. The true signature and date reappeared soon after the first attempt at cleaning. Dr. Bader was so delighted by this wonderful discovery that he has published the story in his second book on his life as a collector. The significance of this superb still life as a very early example of its kind and thus as proto-type for Utrecht Still Life painting cannot be overstated. The pathos of the scene and the portrait-like depictions of the protagonists are unusual also for Bloemaert. The canvas was inspected, approved of and admired in person by the Bloemaert expert Prof. Marcel Roethlisberger. The painting is at present again in a private collection.
An enigma is this striking image of Saint Dominic in Penance, oil on canvas, size 101 x 81 cm., so far described as possibly a replica after a late work by Georges de La Tour (1593-1652). It was published in April 2018 as such in the superb catalogue of de La Tour’s work by Dr. Robert Fohr, publishers Cohen & Cohen. Paris, catalogue number 20, illustrated full page in color. Its history starts with the collection of Spanish art in the possession of Dr. Joachim Carvallo at the chateau de Villandry in the early twentieth century. It was then thought to be from the Circle of Zurbaran, but as the inscription by the Zurbaran scholar Martin Soria states in 1944 on the back of a black and white photograph in the Frick Research Library photo archives: “Notice the stark figure, fresh from the rack, the peculiar cut of the eye, and the somber treatment of the drapery all suggesting the mechanical process of cubism, seen repeatedly in the works of this newly popular artist “ (i.e. de La Tour}, thus rejecting completely the attribution to Zurbaran, but for a fairly confident attribution to de La Tour. Both Hermann Voss and Charles Sterling kept a copy of the black and white photograph in their Georges de La Tour archives described as by an unknown French Caravaggiste. The painting is fairly abraded which makes it difficult to see the high quality of the details in the face, hands and even the body of the Saint. In our opinion it cannot be a copy, but these details also contradict that it would be a workshop replica, aside from the fact that well-nigh nothing is known about a de La Tour workshop. It remaisn in our humble opinion an unfinished work partly by de La Tour himself and finished by his son Etienne.
Neptune calmant la tempête (Neptune calming the storm), an exceptional and large work by Pierre Brebiette (Mantes-la-Jolie 1598?-1642 Paris), oil on canvas, size 111.7 x 148.6 cm., fully attributed with the support from Dr. Paola Bassani Pacht author and Dr. Sylvain Kerspern, co-authors of the exhibition catalog Pierre Brebiette, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orleans, 2002.
As Jacques Thuillier wrote in his preface to the catalog ” On peut voir en Brebiette un petit maître charmant qui poursuit en plein XVIIe siècle le vieux rêve païen de Fontainebleau et retrouve pour chanter Bacchus, les dryades et les satyres, les accents point si lointains ni oubliés de la Pléïade. Mais un autre image s’impose : celle d’un artiste indépendant, dont les expériences romaines eurent un role déterminant pour le développement du courant néo-vénitien des années vingt “ (One could see in Brebiette a charming small master who pursues in the full seventeenth century the old pagan dream of Fontainebleau and recovers for our enchantment Bacchus, the dryads and satyrs, returning to the quite far removed but not forgotten sounds of the ‘Pléïade’- i.e. the Pléïade is the name given to a group of 16th-century French Renaissance poets, inspired by Alexandrian poets and tragedians of the 3rd century B.C. -. But another image imposes itself: that of an independent artist, to whom the Roman experiences were a determining role for the development of the neo-Venetian trend in the years twenty – i.e. 1620’s -).
Both Dr. Bassani Pacht and Dr. Kerspern place our Neptune calmant la tempête to about 1640 towards the end of Brebiette’s working life, a date supported by the structure of the struggling ship and by an engraving by Brebiette dated 1640 of Le Temps sur son Char…etc. (in the Orleans catalog number 103, page 102, illustrated) which shows the figure of Time whose physiognomy resembles that of Neptune in our painting seated on a chariot and with fluttering robes comparable to the torn sails on Aeneas’ ship. The painting is described with its acceptance by the Brebiette specialists Bassani Pacht and Kerspern in a Wikipedia entry under Pierre Brebiette (https://wiki2.org/en/Pierre_Brebiette). Now in a Paris private collection
A quite wonderful painting (shown here during restoration) showing the Abduction of Persephone into the Underworld by Pierre Brebiette (1598?-1642), oil on canvas, size 61 x 89 cm. A subject matter dear to Brebiette probably because of a very much-lamented decease of his wife Louyse de Neufgermain in 1637, was depicted also in large circular form in a well-known painting in the Louvre as well as in a similar work in Chalon-en-Champagne. In effect Brebiette made an engraving of himself which states that art is the only consolation for her loss and how overwhelmed he was by it. Our painting may well be the earliest of the three because it follows rather closely the fine engraving of the Abduction of Persephone by Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), who never used this scene for a painting himself (engraved in 1606 for the Metamorphoses of Ovid, titled Rapta Proserpina, Cyane in stagnum sua nominis convertitur). But the softness of the outlines is entirely typical of Brebiette as is the choice of coloring and a subdued form of bizarreness in the choice of this kind of composition. Brebiette remains a very curious painter with an enormous and intriguing and beautiful set of engravings.
A rare composition of Venus Chastising Amor, oil on canvas, size 118 x 94.5 cm., attributed to Claude Mellan (1598-1688). This majestic work displays the influence from Simon Vouet as well as Jacques Stella, reason why the Stella specialist, Dr. Sylvain Kerspern succeeded in giving it to Mellan. Dr. Kerspern wrote a short article defining his attribution by several examples from Mellan’s engravings as well as some paintings which he sees as determinable to be by the artist’s hand. So far, few works if any could be considered to be painted by Mellan, despite some tentative attributions. Mellan is mainly known for his superb engravings and his small portrait drawings of the Roman gentility. In fact, the face of Venus in our painting looks up close like a drawing in its fine rendering of surface and outlines. Because of the closeness to Vouet’s early works in Rome, one may assume that this painting was created before 1630. Mellan lived till the ripe age of ninety and must have produced many painted works which probably are still given to other artists. This canvas and the others shown in Dr. Kerspern’s article are the first step towards identifying other paintings.
The style thus places this canvas to the time that Mellan lived in Rome with Simon Vouet and another artist, Charles Mellin near the via Margutta, for a long time an artist’s neighborhood in Rome. Also lived there Vouet’s future wife, the young Italian Virginia da Vezzo, an artist in her own right by whom this painting was once thought to have been created. The setting is very theatrical with the protagonists depicted against blue curtains with gold brocade. A glass vase with a red carnation is seen to the left which symbolizes true love. The composition certainly falls within the first ever women’s rights awareness, as exemplified by the brilliant Artemisia Gentileschi. The punishment of erotic love, here shown as a disgruntled young male and an almost unmoved Venus honors the assertion of female power in the early 17th century.
Dr. Kerspern writes: “Quant à votre tableau, s’il y a une impression un peu froide dans les carnations, le caractère terrien demeure dans la morbidezza aux antipodes de l’anatomie académique sur l’antique, et il se peut que l’artiste surenchérisse sur un Guido Reni, qu’un Stella, par exemple (ou Poussin dans son Massacre des Innocents de Chantilly), interroge volontiers entre 1625 et 1630, avant de prendre plutôt le parti de Dominiquin. Or je pense que l’attribution de votre tableau à Mellan va de pair avec une datation à cette époque. A moins qu’il n’actualise en France cette référence à Reni, très recherché par les collectionneurs parisiens’ (What concerns your painting, if there is a slightly cold impression in the flesh tones, the earthy character rests in their softness as the opposite to an anatomy that was the academic interpretation of the antique, and it could well be that the artist outbidding Guido Reni, and even Stella for example (or Poussin in his Massacre of the Innocents in Chantilly), willingly examines this between 1625 and 1630, before taking more the side of Domenichino. Yet I think that the attribution of your painting to Mellan goes hand in hand with a dating to that period. Unless he later did not actualize in France that reference to Reni, a painter much sought after there by collectors)