“Le Melon”, Chardin’s masterpiece on the market at Christie’s | EUROtoday

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HASn the snobbery division of 2024, nothing will beat just a little phrase frequent at dinners on the town, pronounced with just a little pout: “And you, are you more apricots, strawberries, or melon? »

Responding by speaking early will make you look like a fool. This apostrophe has been cultural since 1761, when three paintings by Chardin were exhibited at the Salon: The Apricot Jar – which is part of the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto –, The Wild Strawberry Basket – now, after a few twists and turns and 24.3 million euros, at the Louvre –, and finally The Melon started, that Christie's is offering for sale on June 12 – with an estimate of 8 to 12 million euros…

A pictorial miracle

A rare event: the still life is famous, both for its intrinsic quality and for its history… From Diderot to Pierre Rosenberg, everyone has wondered about this oval painting, this “praise of roundness, as Pierre Étienne says today, international director of old paintings at Christie's. It is a work of complete maturity in the balance of the composition, the mastery of light and colors. The “French Vermeer” that’s Chardin right here captures the evanescent, the ephemeral. »

A pictorial miracle with an impeccable pedigree: painted in 1760, it was subsequently introduced on the Salon of 1761 as belonging to “Mr. Roëttiers, goldsmith to the king”, possible sponsor of the work. In 1802, it was acquired by Guillaume Jean Constantin, who could be curator of the Empress Joséphine's collections at Malmaison…

Thank you Marcille

His destiny grew to become legendary when he joined the partitions of François Marcille, who in only a few years constituted essentially the most fabulous aggregation XVIIe century, with 4,500 work, together with 40 Boucher, 25 Fragonard and a minimum of 30 Chardin, which his sons had the nice style to exhibit.

In 1876, following the succession of Camille Marcille, son of François, The Melon began was acquired by Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild, daughter of Betty and James, founders of the French department, and spouse of Nathaniel. Still life thus joins one other dynasty of immense collectors, however disappears from the general public eye.

This month of June 2024 is subsequently a novel alternative to find this masterpiece earlier than its sale – and to resolve whether or not you’re extra into apricots, strawberries or melon.

Sale on June 12. Public exhibition, from June 8 to 12, 2024, at Christie's, 9, avenue Matignon, Paris 8e.