Jean Baptiste Monnoyer

Peonies, carnations, poppies, morning glory, marigolds, orange blossom, poppy anemones, hollyhocks and other flowers in a bronze urn on a stone ledge

Oil on canvas: 24(h) x 30(w) in /

61(h) x 76.2(w) cm

Signed lower right: J. Baptiste fecit

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AH 170

 

JEAN-BAPTISTE MONNOYER

Lille 1636 – 1699 London

 

Peonies, carnations, poppies, morning glory, marigolds, orange blossom, poppy anemones, hollyhocks and other flowers in a bronze urn on a stone ledge

 

Signed lower right: J. Baptiste fecit

Oil on canvas: 24 x 30 in / 61 x 76.2 cm

Frame size: 32 ½ x 37 in / 82.6 x 94 cm

 

Painted in the 1690s

 

Provenance:

Lady Young

Private collection, UK

 

 

Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer was one of the leading baroque flower painters, working for Louis XIV at Versailles and for Queen Mary in England in the 1690s. He often signed paintings only with his Christian names, J. Baptiste, as here, so that early sources refer to him as ‘Baptiste’.

 

This painting is an excellent example of his single bouquets in a horizontal format. Every element of the work, from the footed bronze urn with its classical Roman detailing, to the serpentine composition of the flowers with their ruffled petals, expresses the high baroque. Monnoyer builds the bouquet round warm and cold hues, with warm predominating. The lightest-coloured flowers, such as the hollyhocks, peonies and poppy anemones, push forward from the dark background, giving the bouquet solidity in space. Monnoyer was particularly fond of round, heavy-headed flowers with exuberant layers of petals, interspersed with more delicate blooms such as the morning glory and tightly-furled buds of orange blossom.

Themes of Day and Night may be suggested by this painting. The dusky red opium poppies (papaver somniferum) at the right turn their heads away from the viewer into the shadows. The crisp blue and white morning glory (Ipomea violacea), by contrast, sparkles in full sunlight at the front of the bouquet.   JEAN-BAPTISTE MONNOYER

Lille 1636 – 1699 London

 

Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer is famed for his decorative flowerpieces, found in many country houses in France and England. Born in Lille in 1636, Monnoyer first studied in Antwerp, before going to Paris before 1650, where he rapidly established his reputation working on the decoration of the Hôtel Lambert. In 1665 he was reçu as a member of the Academy; in 1673 he exhibited four paintings at the first Salon. He rose to prominence in the Académie and was made Conseiller in 1679. Monnoyer’s first wife was the sister of the history painter Pierre Mosnier; in 1667 he married Marie Pétré.

 

Patronized by Charles Le Brun, Louis XIV’s Court painter, Monnoyer was employed to decorate the royal palaces at Versailles, Vincennes, Trianon, Meudon and Marly. From 1666 he also designed floral motifs and borders for the Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry works, often collaborating with his son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (1653-1715).

 

In 1690 the Ralph Montagu, later 1st Duke of Montagu, English Ambassador to Louis XIV, persuaded Monnoyer to accompany him to England for four months, where he won immediate acclaim, painting flowerpieces and still lifes for the aristocracy. Monnoyer returned to London in 1692 and remained there until his death in 1699. His works decorated Montagu’s Boughton, Northamptonshire and Montagu House, London (now the site of the British Museum); Burlington House, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court; his patrons included Queen Mary, Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans and Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle. Monnoyer also added flowers to Godfrey Kneller’s portraits. A number of engravings were made after Monnoyer’s paintings, extending his reputation beyond the circle of his aristocratic patrons.

 

During his prolific career, Monnoyer executed easel paintings and designs for overdoors and overmantels; his works show an awareness of Flemish and Italian baroque flower painting, imbued with a French delicacy and an all-pervasive freshness of vision. His son Antoine Monnoyer (b.1672) assisted him with commissions in England.

 

The work of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer is represented at Versailles; Hampton Court; the Hermitage, St Petersburg; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Louvre, Paris; the Musée Fabre, Montpellier and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen.

 

Old MasterJean Baptiste Monnoyer