Style Other / Ref.13016
Charles LABARRE (-1906) Round plate in Sèvres porcelain « Spring song »after W. Bouguereau (1825-1905), circa 1890
Diameter: 22'' ½ 57cm
France, circa 1890
This ravishing plate in Sèvres porcelain presented with a beautiful wooden and gilded plaster frame, sculpted as a bay tree tora, was made by the painter of porcelain Charles Labarre around 1890.
Charles Labarre was a reknown painter of porcelain, active during the 1890 decade who worked in Doulton Burslem and Sèvres. His painted decorations are all characteristical of a traditional, neo-classical painting with sweet colours, and scenes inspired from an antique imaginary. He chose to reproduce here the famous painting by William Bouguereau, Spring song, exhibited during the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and bought by an American collector, Knoedler, for his gallery in New York. Kept in the collection of a family of New York since, it was proposed to auction again in 2007, and then in 2019, when he was sold for more than 2 millions of euros, becoming the artist’s most expensive work to this day.
This monumental oil on canvas expresses a subject frequent in Bouguereau’s production. Called « fantasy paintings » by the artist, those pieces of work were the perfect receptacle for his dedication to create beautiful forms using harmonious colours. In Spring song, the painter tries to capture the essence of spring under all his senses. Images, sounds and smells of the spring awakening in the country side are evoked through the young girl’s beauty, the flowers on her knees, the young putti singing to her ears, the blossoming flowers at her feet. The artist paints as if he was exulting from the flesh’s tenderness and from life fulfilment. Furthermore, the young girl represented is no other than Gabrielle Drunzer (1873-1915), considered at this time one of the most beautiful French actresses, and who would appear in several compositions of the painter.
William Bouguereau was born in La Rochelle in 1825 and showed at a very young age an outstanding talent for drawing and painting. He settlled in Paris when he was 20 years-old to study in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he learned to master the style that would define him as an artist and that he would defend through his life, that is, academic painting. He dedicated himself essentially to historical or mythological scenes, granting a particular importance to the balance of colours and to human anatomy, always very idealised (according to the codes of classical sculpture). His talent is soon noticed and in 1850 he received the prestigious Prix de Rome, which allowed him to reside for three years in the Villa Medici in Roma. There, he could discover the masterpieces from Antiquity and Renaissance which would inspire his work, especially Titian and Veronese. He got back to France and entered keenly the Parisian Salon every year. In 1863, he caught the attention of Napoléon III and his wife Eugénie, who bought his painting The Holy Family. This imperial favour accelerated the boom of his career, and soon he received orders from the European royalty and the American aristocracy.
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