Antoine Monnoyer - Still life of roses, hyacinths, orange blossom, narcissi and other flowers in a glass vase on a stone ledge

Antoine Monnoyer

Still life of roses, hyacinths, orange blossom, narcissi and other flowers in a glass vase on a stone ledge

Oil on canvas: 30(h) x 25(w) in /

76.2(h) x 63.5(w) cm

Signed and dated lower right: Baptiste 1714

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BP 106

 

ANTOINE MONNOYER

Paris 1677 – 1747 Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Still life of roses, hyacinths, orange blossom, narcissi and other flowers in a glass vase on a stone ledge

Signed and dated lower right: Baptiste 1714

Oil on canvas: 30 x 25 in / 76.2 x 63.5 cm

Frame size: 37 x 32 in / 94 x 81.3 cm

Provenance:

Major Arthur Francis Clarke-Jervoise (d.1974), DL, JP, Idsworth Park, Horndean, Hampshire, by 1967

Private collector, Jersey;

from whom purchased by a private collector, UK

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Antoine Monnoyer by Claudia Salvi

This painting is a typical example of the work of Antoine Monnoyer. The date is of particular interest as it demonstrates that early on Baptist junior developed a way of working that was uniquely his own and which he would employ throughout his career. There are several paintings known to us where the artist’s favourite flowers are placed in a deeply curved glass vase exactly like the one depicted here (1). In these elegant arrangements, just as in this one, the flowers of a rounded shape such as the double anemones, the bicoloured roses and the centifolia roses are grouped together in the centre near the rim of the vase, while those of the corymbiferous variety such as the lilacs, the elderflower and the smaller flowers such as the hyacinths, narcissi and apple blossom surround them and together form a sort of floral garland made up of small, newly-opened flowers along the stone ledge. The spiral-shaped composition begins with a chain of small blossoms converging into a core of closed forms, giving the impression of an expanding composition and allowing the painter to create a foil to the strong symmetry of the image. Similarly, the contained and precious luminosity of the palette, the planes of colour that at first glance seem to dominate, are contrasted with great finesse by the vibrant play of the brushstrokes that animate the corollas. So the crisp outline of the anemones contrasts with the strong graphic accent of the honeysuckle. The careful placement of the petals of the double anemones and the bold marbling of the gallica (bicoloured) rose are expressed in creamy brushstrokes, sought after with a nonchalance that the artist then uses to describe the complex petals of the centifolia rose or the white briar rose, modestly hidden by a bed of dark leaves.

Antoine Monnoyer, even as he masters the codes of representation of traditional flower paintings as they were determined a century earlier in Flanders and in Italy, manages by the play of multiple tensions within his composition to achieve a result that opposes that of his predecessors. He does not renounce a well-structured image, but manages to find a new ornamental concept, which underlines the nature of his work, as does the restrained but delicately nuanced colour of his palette. Consequently the novelty of his approach is evident. In the very moment of seemingly establishing the model of the ornamental bouquet, Antoine Monnoyer is, rather, elaborating his own version of the idea expressed by Voltaire’s Candide of ‘cultivant son jardin’, so that the exercise of reason may sagely embellish nature.

Claudia Salvi

1: See among numerous examples, the pair of paintings, signed Baptiste, at Sotheby’s New York, 28 January 1999, lot 437 (attributed to J.B. Monnoyer); also see the painting at Christie’s, New York, 6 April 2006, lot 8 (rightly attributed to Antoine Monnoyer): and again the very pretty painting also signed Baptiste in Zurich, sale Koller, 18-20 September 1996, lot 86 (attributed to J.B. Monnoyer)

 

Note on the provenance

This painting was formerly in the collection of Major Arthur Francis Clarke-Jervoise of  Idsworth Park, whose family had been landowners in Hampshire since the fifteenth century. Idsworth House was designed by William Burn and completed in 1852. Major Clarke-Jervoise lived at Idsworth from 1948 until his death in 1974.

Major Arthur Francis Clarke-Jervoise.

Idsworth House, Hampshire. Key to flower map by Celia Fisher

 

1  Centifolia rose        Rosa centifolia                                                                                                                       2  Bicoloured rose      Rosa gallica versicolor                                                                                                       3 White briar rose      Rosa sempervirens                                                                                                            4  Anemone               Anemone coronaria                                                                                                          5 Orange blossom      Citrus sinensis                                                                                                                                6 Elderflower             Sambacus nigra                                                                                                                            7 Narcissus                 Narcissus tazetta                                                                                                                                 8 Lilac                         Syringa vulgaris                                                                                                                                9 Apple blossom         Malus domestica                                                                                                                            10 Hyacinth                Hyacinthus orientalis                                                                                                               11 Yellow day lily       Hemerocallis flava                                                                                                                     12 Sage                      Salvia officinalis                                                                                                                         13 Morning glory       Ipomoea tricolor                                                                                                                                        14 Marigold               Calendula officinalis                                                                                                                                 15 Honeysuckle         Lonicera periclymenum                                                                                                                   16 Carnation              Dianthus caryophyllus                                                                                                                          17 Hawthorn             Crataegus laevigata                                                                                                                    18 Primula                 Primula farinosa                                                                                                                                19 Borage                  Borago officinalis

The more recently introduced, and therefore fashionable, flowers at that time would have included the hyacinth, narcissus, morning glory, yellow day lily and lilac. Other flowers that had been recently developed into fine cultivars include the centifolia and bicoloured roses, the anemones and the carnation.

The hawthorn species has leaves that are less lobed, and slightly larger flowers, than the common hedgerow hawthorn.

Old MasterAntoine Monnoyer