(French, born 1639)
Peaches and Grapes on a Draped Table
Oil on panel, 10 ¾ x 14 inches
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, December 11 1985, lot 116, as Circle of Liegeois; Private Collection, Europe; Christie’s, London, July 5, 2007, lot 71, as Attributed to Paul Liegeois (£132,000; $266,397 [Art Net]); Private Collection, London, from whence purchased, 2011
M. Faré, Le Grand Siècle de la Nature Morte en France, Fribourg, 1974, p. 78, illustrated, as ‘Ecole Française’ (as on canvas).
Charlotte Vignon was the daughter of one of France’s most prominent painters in the 17th century. Still, little is known of her life. Born in Paris in 1639, she was the tenth of twenty-four children of Claude Vignon (some sources say she was one of thirty-four offspring). Her oeuvre is comprised solely of still lifes, owing much to the legacy of Italian artist Fede Galizia, a pioneer of the still life genre.
Our delicately rendered still life displays Vignon’s deftness of detail and skillful attention to shadow, light and texture. Stacked peaches and grapes are gracefully illuminated against a dark background, enhancing their dimensionality. Though the fruits appear casually placed on the draped table, the composition is carefully and perfectly balanced. In a rich play of textures the convincingly fuzzy texture of the peaches contrasts with the translucency of the grapes and the lustrous sheen of their leaves. The round forms of the fruit are countered by the strong horizontal of the table’s edge, which is subtly softened by the undulating folds of the crimson silk (?) cloth.
The present painting most closely resembles another panel painting of the same subject by the artist in the Musee des Beaux-arts, Rennes. In 1986 Fabrice Faré visited the museum and provided the attribution to Charlotte Vignon. In 2011 Faré confirmed the secure attribution of our painting to Vignon (letter to accompany the picture). Eric Coatalem will include the two paintings in his forthcoming comprehensive survey of French 17th century still life paintings. Both pictures depict peaches displayed on a table covered by a unique red silk or satin fabric with deep decorative striations. Two other paintings of peaches on the same fabric by Charlotte Vignon are known (sale, Arcole, Drouot, Paris, 19 April 1989, no. 38 [panel, 32 x 46 cm]; private collection, Paris [canvas, 47 x 52 cm]). A pendant to our picture, featuring red and yellow grapes on the very same red cloth, last appeared with its pair in the 2007 sale cited above (lot 72; $387,487). Another panel from the Ward collection in Cambridge, Coupe de raisins noirs et blancs, features a display of purple and green grapes on a brass platter and is signed on the back. This important signed work is a cornerstone in the ongoing endeavor to identify Vignon’s paintings.