Louis Boilly

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Louis Boilly
Studies of Members of the Chenard Family
ca. 1800
Black and white chalk on brown paper.
17 7/8 x 11 11/16 inches (452 x 297 mm)
Thaw Collection.

While Boilly is known for his insightful and amusing small portraits in oils, which he executed in hours, he was also skilled at drawing portraits, as this sheet reveals. It is one of a group of sheets, executed in black and white chalk, that depict a cluster of family members of one of the artist's friends. The accumulation of portraits across the surface suggests that various household members sat for him briefly throughout the day. These sheets often became family heirlooms.
This affectionate family portrait depicts the handsome and talented opera singer and actor Simon Chenard (1758-1831), who in 1782 had made his debut as Orestes in Christophe Willibald Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. Rendered in profile--the only sitter who does not address the artist with his gaze--Chenard is portrayed in the company of his wife, mother, two daughters, two household servants, and an unidentified woman in hoop earrings at lower left. The Chenard family lived in the same apartment building as Boilly, and Simon had been named guardian of Boilly's children after the death of the artist's wife in 1795.


Watermark: none visible through lining.

Alfred de Rothschild (1842-1918), London; his [illegitimate] daughter, Almina Wombwell (1877-1969), 5th Countess of Carnarvon, London; her sale, Christie's, London, 22 May 1925, lot 4; Thos. Agnew's and Sons, Ltd., London; Mrs. John Magee Wyckoff (dates unknown), New York; George Magee Wyckoff (1900-1973); private collection, Connecticut; Eugene V. (1927-2018) and Clare E. (1924-2017) Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Rothschild, Alfred Charles de, former owner.
Carnarvon, Almina, Countess of, former owner.
Magee Wyckoff, John, Mrs., former owner.
Magee Wyckoff, George, former owner.
Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 12, repr.
Roland Michel in Cambridge and elsewhere 1998-2000, p. 62, 73 no. 41.
Denison, Cara D. et al. The Thaw Collection : Master Drawings and New Acquisitions. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1994, no. 33.
Bréton, Etienne, Zuber, Pascal, Yacob, Annie, Tulard, Jean, Foucart, Jacques, and Boilly, Louis. Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1761-1845 : Le Peintre De La Société Parisienne De Louis XVI À Louis-Philippe / Étienne Bréton Et Pascal Zuber, Assistés Par Annie Yacob ; Avant-propos Par Jean Tulard De L'Institut ; Préface Par Jacques Foucart. 2019.

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