Louis XIV had become in his old age the symbol of an obsolete and frustrating society. His death in 1715 triggered a liberation of the mores in the high society. Inventor of the theme of the Fêtes Galantes, Watteau is finally received in 1717 at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, followed two years later by Lancret. Also in 1717 Watteau decorates a dining room of Pierre Crozat with four paintings on the theme of the four seasons still with a mythological pretext.
In this liberated atmosphere the financiers are unleashed. Formerly a close advisor to Louis XIV, the marquis de La Faye makes a fortune in 1719 in the speculative bubble of Law. He has the skill to immediately use this easy money in the purchase of residences and is not affected in 1720 by Law's bankruptcy.
A friend and rival to Crozat, La Faye wants to become a flagship of the new society. This bachelor in his later forties is a pleasure lover. He commissions to Lancret a modernized version of the Quatre Saisons that will be an apology for nonchalant merriness. Lancret needs to stand out from Watteau. These four oils on canvas 115 x 94 cm painted around 1720 with an exquisite elegance launch his career.
The series of Lancret's seasons is separated by an art dealer after 1785. Le Printemps where the couples are forming and L'Eté devoted to women's bath are acquired by the Empress Catherine of Russia. L'Automne with its charming libations led by Pierrot and Colombine was sold for $ 1.2M including premium by Christie's on April 27, 2017.
L'Hiver has just resurfaced after 128 years out of public view. It is estimated $ 1.5M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1, lot 69. Among the four seasons from the salon of the marquis, it is the only indoor scene. The high ceiling attests to an unparalleled desire for luxury and the sinuous wall hangings open the way to the cozy atmosphere of la Régence.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's relying on the recent rediscovery of L'Hiver to match this painting with an early engraving by Le Bas.
SOLD for $ 2.65M including premium