Lot 19. Charlotte Vignon (Paris, before 1639 - ? after 1685), Peaches and grapes on a table draped with a red velvet cloth, oil on panel, 10 3/4 by 14 in.; 27 by 35.5 cm. Estimate 150,000 — 200,000 USD. Lot sold 375,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's
Provenance: Private collection, Paris;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 11 December 1985, lot 116 (as Circle of Paul Liégeois);
Private Collection, Europe;
By whom sold anonymously, London, Christie’s, 5 July 2007, lot 71 (as attributed to Paul Liégois);
Private collection, London;
From whom acquired by the present collector in 2011.
Literature: M. Faré, Le Grand Siècle de la Nature Morte en France, Fribourg 1974, p. 78, reproduced (as Ecole Française and as oil on canvas);
E. Coatalem, La nature morte française au XVIIe siècle, Dijon 2014, p. 351, reproduced.
Note: This enchanting, delicately-rendered still life is a rare work by the female artist Charlotte Vignon. In it she deftly captures a range of textures; the contrast between the crispness of the leaves, the soft fuzz of the peach skin, and the luminescent red cloth are exceptionally realized. While the composition may appear simple at first, it is remarkably complex: the five peaches are placed in a precarious balancing act, while her use of shadows and the subtle shifting of the cloth underneath provide a convincing sense of depth and tension between the objects.
Along with Louise Moillon (1610-1696), Vignon was one of the very few female painters in 17th century France whose work and name have been preserved over the centuries. The handful of known works by Vignon are all still lifes, and none are signed. Her paintings are indebted to one of the pioneers of still life painting and fellow female artist Fede Galizia (c. 1574-1630), whose signed and dated still life of 1607 is one of the earliest Italian paintings in the genre that can be securely dated.1 Vignon's works also betray the influence of Willem van Aelst, who spent about five years in Paris as a young artist and left his mark on the French still life genre.
Very little is known of Vignon's life. Born in Paris, she was the tenth child of the artist Claude Vignon, who spent much of his career in Rome. While she likely trained with her father, his oeuvre consists mostly of large-scale religious and figurative works. Baptized in 1639, she was briefly married in 1655 to Joseph Régnault, an instrumentalist and dancer, and lived in Paris.
The present painting relates closely to a work in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, which also depicts peaches and grapes on a red velvet covered table, though it is larger and on canvas (fig. 1). In the 2007 sale (see Provenance), a pendant to the present painting, featuring bunches of grapes on the same red velvet cloth, was also offered, though its current location is unknown. Both paintings were then attributed to Paul Liégeois (active in Paris, 1650-70), though both Eric Coatalem (see Literature) and Fabrice Faré have since confirmed the attribution of the present painting to Vignon.2
fig. 1. Charlotte Vignon, Peaches and grapes. Oil on canvas, 18,3 x 29,1 cm, INV794.1.116 © MBA, Rennes Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Jean-Manuel Salingue.
1. A Crystal fruit stand with peaches, quinces and jasmine flowers, signed with monogram lower left: · FG · and dated lower right: 1607, oil on poplar panel, 31.2 by 42.5 cm. Sold London, Sotheby's, 8 July 2015, lot 29.
2. Private correspondence, 7 July 2011.
Sotheby's. The Otto Naumann Sale, New York, 31 janv. 2018, 06:00 PM