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Les Oies de Frère Philippe

Gavin Claxton

Les Oies de Frère Philippe

£19950

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‘Les Oies de Frère Philippe’ by Henri-Charles-Antoine Baron (1816-1885). This recently rediscovered painting, long considered lost, was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1845 where the famous French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire described it as representing “the Rococo of Romanticism”. The painting – which depicts the denouement of the story of ‘Friar Philip’s Geese’ by Jean de la Fontaine – is signed by the artist and presented in a fine quality bespoke gold metal leaf frame.

  • We would like to thank Andrew Counter, Professor of Modern French Literature at New College, Oxford University for his invaluable help in identifying the subject and history of the painting.

The Contes (or fables) of Jean de la Fontaine were very popular in eighteenth-century France, and one tale that proved especially popular with artists was the story of Friar Philip and his attempt to preserve the purity of his son and live free from temptation.

After years living as hermits, Friar Philip finally allows the young man to experience the world outside their cave and glimpse the palace of the prince. Although passionately stirred by the wonders of its art and architecture, it’s only when he sees young women for the first time that he really flips! Desperate to know more, he asks his father the name of these strange and beautiful creatures… “O tell me, father; make my joy complete!”

In a final vain attempt to shield the boy from carnal desires, Friar Philip answers… “A bird they call a goose.”

“O beauteous bird, exclaimed the enraptured boy,

Sing, sound thy voice, 'twill fill my soul with joy;

To thee I'd anxiously be better known;

O father, let me have one for my own!”

Henri-Charles-Antoine Baron was a pupil of Louis-Alexandre Peron (1776-1855) and Jean François Gigoux (1806-1894) and first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1837. For the next 40 years Baron would exhibit annually in Paris where he won medals of honour and numerous commissions from some of France’s most important patrons including the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III. Henri Baron as made a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in 1885.

Dimensions: (framed) 100cm x 122cm (39½” x 48”)

Dimensions: (canvas only) 84cm x 106cm (33” x 41¾”)

Medium: Oil on canvas.

Provenance: Private UK collection.

Presentation: Newly commissioned bespoke gold metal leaf frame. All of the new frames we commission are especially made for us to order by one of the UK’s top period frame makers.

Condition: Very good. Professionally cleaned and re-varnished. Ready to hang.

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