Figure 1.--Here is an original pastel drawing on vellum depicting a young child building a house of cards. Like many still-life and portrait pastels that were created in the early part of the 18th Century, this work is unsigned. This composition, in this medium and with the costume of this subject points to its French origin.
We have acquired some images of what we believe to be French paintings, but they are not signed works. Several provide interesting glimes into French boys' clothing even though the artist can not be identified. Identified paintings are most useful and they can often be dated. These unidentified paintings, however, can still be very useful.
Here is an original pastel drawing on vellum depicting a young child building a house of cards. Like many still-life and portrait pastels that were created in the early part of the 18th Century, this work is unsigned. This composition, in this medium and with the costume of this subject points to its French origin.
Artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin were known to place subjects building a house of cards. This prop and pose reflects a philosophical idea that all human endeavor hinges on the impermanence of nature. The costume suggests a boy, although we are unsure about the hat. This would have been worn by an aristocratic or other wealthy boy in the late 19th or perhaps early 19th century. Pastel is a form of colored crayon made up of powdered pigments and diluted mediums. Its tactile qualities were appreciated by 18th century portrait painters like La Tour and Perronneau.
A reader asks us if we could tell anything about this portrait such as when it was painted and if the subject is a boy or girl. All that we know for sure is that there is a label on the back which reads, "Galerie Darthea Speyer, Paris, France". This suggests that it is a French painting, but is not proof positive. From the look of the painting we would guess that it iS French we would dae it to the 1820s. The Greeks at the time were fighting the Ottoman Turks for their independence. This generated a great deal of interest and sympathy in Europe at the time. The collar suggests to us that the youth is a boy.
This appears to be a French painting, but there is absolutely no information connected with the painting. It must hve been painted in the 19th century, but I am not sure just when. Probably the mid-19th century. We do not know who the child was or the name of the artist. It looks to us like a portrait commissioned by a moderately successful, but not rich family. The artist seems competent, but clearly not a master painter. The dealer handling this portrait was sure the child was a boy. We are not positive, but believe that he is probably correct.
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