Circa 1850, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, he gives up the historical themes to make anonymous portraits that will constitute his secret garden: he shows them sparingly and it was not until many years after his death that art critics shall admit that they are his most outstanding work.
His young peasant women in pretty blouses of Italian style are often a reading girl who gives up that occupation to look toward the viewer. Their dreamy attitude opposes the jovial behavior exhibited by the artist in his own life, perhaps explaining the underlying reason why he kept these images in his own intimacy. Nevertheless, he appears as a precursor of Bouguereau.
On October 27 in New York, Christie's sells a Liseuse interrompant sa lecture painted in the 1850s. This oil on canvas 56 x 46 cm is estimated $ 1.2M, lot 9.
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