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Painting Title Le Lecteur
Alternative Title The Judicious Lover; The Reader
Ofl Title Le Lecteur; Le Liseur
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Gravelot (French painter and printmaker, 1699-1773, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1740
Date Latest 1753
Signed yes
Description By the edge of a window a man sits on a chair reading to a woman seen in profile, seated to the right. Hubert-Francois Bourguignon Gravelot was born in Paris and studied under Jean Restout and Francois Boucher. He was working in England between 1733 and 1755, briefly returning to Paris around 1745-1746. He was principally a designer and engraver of book illustrations, but also painted small conversation pieces. Le Lecteur was created as an English subject and both the furniture and style of dress can be dated to the mid 1740s. Another version, also dated about 1745, in Marble Hill House, London (English Heritage, no. 88029317), could have been created either in England or during Gravelot's brief return to Paris in 1745-1746. It seems to be superior to the York picture, but it is uncertain wether the York picture is a later autograph replica or an earlier version of the subject.
Current Accession Number YORAG : 801
Inscription front ll 'H.G.'
Subject figure; interior; everyday life
Measurements 30.4 x 25.0 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by F.D. Lycett Green through the National Art Collections Fund 1955.
Provenance With 'M. Woman', London 1867 (according to M. Philippe Burty, presumably misreading of 'Mr. Wornum'); Ralph Wornum 1868; J.B. Heseltine 1902; Heseltine sale, Sotheby's London 27-29 May 1935, lot 41, purchased by Frank.
Principal Exhibitions Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 1867; National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868, no. 172a as 'A Conversation Piece'; , Guildhall, London 1902, no. 141 as 'Le Liseur'; National Loan Exhibition in aid of the National Gallery, Grafton Galleries, London 1909-10, no. 100; F.D. Lycett Green Gift, York City Art Gallery, 1955, no. 84; , Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, London, 1965, no. 19; France in the 18th Century, Royal Academy, London, 1968, cat. no. 160; The French Taste in English Painting, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, London ,1968; British 17th and 18th Century Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1977-78, no. 26.
Publications Goncourt, E. de, L'Art du XVIIIe siecle, 1883, Vol. II, pp. 277-78, 308; PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 30, April 1955, vol. VIII, p. 314; Edwards, R., 'Two versions of Graevlot's Le Lectueur', Apollo, June 1958, pp. 212-13; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p.104, pl. 92; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 288.
Notes There are three engravings after the painting. One shows only the female figure (engraved by Charles Grignion, 1721-1810, published by John Bowles in 1745). The second one, probably after the Marble Hill House version, was engraved by René Gaillard and published in Paris 1756 as a companion to La Marchande des Modes after Boucher; it was entitled Le Lecteur and inscribed with two columns of verse in French, indicating that the scene in set in England ('Oui, cette jeune Angloise...du plus fameux auteur'). The third engraving, probably after YORAG : 801, entitled The Judicious Lover, was published in England with a verse on the wooing of Cecilia: 'And what the Swain himself could neer have won / A single page of Ovid see has done'. It is signed 'J. Marchand Sculp', which refers to the British engraver active 1749-50. Edmond de Goncourt (L'art du XVIIIme siècle, 1882) mentioned both engravings, stating that the one by Marchand followed the one by Gaillard, and they both were supposed to be after a painting owned by M. Woman in London it is difficult to establish if that in fact refers to the painting in York or to the one in the Marble Hill House; the same problem refers to the painting inthe artist's sale in Paris, 19 May 1773, lot 120. However, it seems probable that the Marble Hill House painting was in France (engraved in Paris, and possibly the one catalogued at Gravelot's sale, purchased by Cuillier; it was acquired in Paris by Mr. and Mrs. Eliot Hodgin, from whom acquired by the Greater London Council for Marble Hill House, Twickenham, in 1969), while the York painting (engraved by Marchand) may have never left England.
Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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