Galerie Michael is pleased to present a carefully curated selection of our most exclusive, museum quality works. As the year comes to a close, our team has chosen this select number of masterpieces—arranged by respective artists—to showcase the gallery’s “best ofs.” Galerie Michael is committed to providing our clients with fine art of the highest quality, and we invite you to admire this group of our most extraordinary compositions.

Jeune Femme Nourrissant ses Volailles, circa 1860 • Jules BRETON (1827-1906) 

19Century Artists: Jules Breton, Jeune Femme Nourrissant ses Volailles, 1860, oil on canvas, Framed

Jules BRETON (1827-1906)
Jeune Femme Nourrissant ses Volailles, circa 1860

Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right
Annette Bourrut Lacouture has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which she states is very characteristic of the artist’s style in the 1860s. The painting will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Jules Breton.
22 x 18 1/8 in. (55.9 x 46 cm)
Framed Dimensions: 30 3/4 x 26 1/2 in.
914525

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As one of the primary academic painters of the 19th century, Jules Breton evolved a painting style that combined figurative realism with the idealism of classical traditions.

Breton spent most of his career in the village of Courrières in northern France, immersed in the life and customs of the rural environment. When he was ten, Breton enrolled in a local school where he received his first drawing lessons, later studying in Belgium, where he learned the traditions of academic painting, historical genre and the heritage of northern European art. In 1847, ill health forced him to return to Courrières. After his recovery, Breton was sent to Paris to finish his artistic education, further absorbing the academic conventions of the day, while remaining open to the development of new aspects of contemporary realism. He was strongly influenced by the Barbizon tradition, as his sketches and preliminary studies for his large-scale Salon canvases reveal his ability to absorb and recast aspects of the Barbizon tradition.

By 1853, Breton was exhibiting canvases at the Paris Salon, with works based on his own observations of rural life in Courrières. During this period, Breton developed the plan for his first major Salon triumph, ”The Gleaners,” a painting that received a Third Class Medal at the 1855 Salon. This work was well received and carefully studied, influencing such painters as Jean-François Millet (1814 – 1875), who had already developed his own interest in the same theme. (A gleaner is someone who picks up, or gathers, grain left in the field by the harvesters.)

Each year at the Salon, Breton’s images of gleaners, harvesters and peasant women helped establish his reputation as the foremost painter of rural life. Along with several First Class Medals and, in 1872, the Medal of Honor, he was named a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in 1861, and in 1867 he was promoted to Officer of the same order. Breton’s election to the Institut de France in 1886 solidified his status as one of the most respected painters of his day.

Throughout his career, which spanned nearly sixty years, Breton painted with an idealistic vision of the beauty and harmony of the peasant laborer working the land. Breton was respected by his peers for his intelligence, as well as his artistic and literary ability and achievements. Breton was one of the most popular and influential image-makers of his time, concerned with the nobility and honor of peasant life, always treating them with a simple, unobstructed style. Many of his compositions demonstrate that he was able to infuse a symbolic, pensive quality into these images, sometimes suggesting a strong romantic inclination, as shown in the present work. Tasked with the everyday chore of feeding the chickens, this young woman is deep in thought, contemplating her future, perhaps outside of the family farm.

Museum collections featuring works by this artist include:

• Art Institute of Chicago, IL;
• Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;
• Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco;
• Detroit Institute of Art, MI;
• Musée du Louvre, Paris;
• Musée d’Orsay, Paris;
• Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
• Réunion des Musées Nationaux, France;
• Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC;
• Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland;
• Brooklyn Museum, New York;
• Carnegie Museum of Art, PA;
• Chi-Mei Museum, Taiwan;
• Cleveland Museum of Art, OH;
• Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, MO;
• Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper, France;
• Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA;
• The Walters Art Museum, MD;
• Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Tendre Adolescence et papillons • Narcisse Virgile DIAZ DE LA PEÑA (1807-1876)

Narcisse Virgile DIAZ DE LA PEÑA (1807-1876) Tendre Adolescence et papillons, Oil on canvas for sale. Imbued with rich, ornate tones, the large-scale ”Tendre Adolescence et papillons” (Young Adolescents and Butterflies) work can be directly correlated to Impressionism, which followed in the coming years. In impeccable condition, it is a true representation of Diaz's mastery of the medium, while also capturing a tender and innocent moment of youth.

Narcisse Virgile DIAZ DE LA PEÑA (1807-1876)
Tendre Adolescence et papillons

Oil on canvas
Signed lower left
Provenance:
Marumo Collection, Paris; B. Wemaere Collection, Versailles (lyrical abstract French painter 1913-2010); Private Collection, France Exhibition history: Paris, Les Pavillon des Arts, Diaz, May – July 1968, no. 33
Literature:
Pierre and Roland Miquel, Narcisse Diaz de la Peña: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Paris, 2006, p. 486, no. 2961, catalogued & illustrated
43 1/2 x 29 1/4 in. (110.5 x 74.3 cm)
Framed dimensions: 54 x 40 in.
915081

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Imbued with rich, ornate tones, the large-scale ”Tendre Adolescence et papillons” (Young Adolescents and Butterflies) work can be directly correlated to Impressionism, which followed in the coming years. In impeccable condition, it is a true representation of Diaz’s mastery of the medium, while also capturing a tender and innocent moment of youth.

Diaz was a French painter of Spanish origins. He first worked as a porcelain painter but shortly after started training with the artist François Souchon (1787-1857). He soon became the friend of some of the most famous exponents of the Barbizon school such as Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867) and Paul Huet (1803-1869). Diaz regularly exhibited landscapes and genre scenes at the Salon from 1831 to 1859. At the end of his life, he was admired by the new generation of artists who were about to form the Impressionist movement. Diaz’s brightly colored images of figures may have been prompted in part by the Rococo patterns he encountered at the beginning of his career. Following in the tradition of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), Diaz became ”the principal colorist of his generation.”

Though a member of the Barbizon School of landscape painters, Diaz was stylistically different than his Barbizon colleagues. His penchant for melodramatic lighting contrasting with a sense of quiet communion in nature remained parallel with the school, but Diaz never lost the Romantic leanings of his youth. He continued to paint mythological, figurative scenes, often featuring nymphs and children. This varied subject matter as well as his magnificent use of color set him apart from his contemporaries. Like the artist’s other pictures composed in the spirit of ”l’art pour l’art” (art for art’s sake), the painting is designed to dazzle the eye and set the mind to dreaming.

Museum collections featuring works by this artist include:

• Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Musée du Louvre, Paris;
• Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux;
• Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco;
• Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, UK;
• Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg;
• Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California;
• Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY;
• Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
• National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.;
• Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena;
• Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam;
• Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Picking Flowers, late 19th century• Daniel Ridgway KNIGHT (1839-1924) 

Daniel Ridgway KNIGHT (1839-1924)
Picking Flowers, late 19th century

Oil on canvas
Signed and inscribed ‘Paris’ lower right
This work has been authenticated and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist.
Provenance:
Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Derby, Kansas (acquired circa 1910);
Richard Green Gallery, London;
Private Collection, London
26 x 32 in. (66 x 81.3 cm)
Framed dimensions: 35 1/8 x 41 5/8 in.
915130

In order to perfectly capture the spirit of the countryside, Knight renounced modern conveniences and completely immersed himself in country life. He acquainted himself with the locals, who became models for his paintings, allowing him to recreate intimate moments that represent the closeness of the country people, as depicted in ”Picking Flowers.” His Rolleboise home had a picturesque terrace overlooking the Seine, which is likely the setting of this piece. Knight has paid close attention to every detail: the wild and colorful blooms, the reflections of the trees in the river, and the subtleties of the light hitting the clouds. An impeccable masterpiece, worthy of a museum collection.

Daniel Ridgway Knight was an expatriate ”en plein air” painter who spent most of his career living in France. He studied first at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and later at L’École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. His paintings often depicted idealized peasant women in a crisp academic style, with intricate attention to detail.

Born in Philadelphia to Quaker parents, Knight overcame the culturally restrictive Quaker life, studying in Pennsylvania before traveling to Paris in 1861. There, he worked under Charles Gleyre (1806-1874) along with other artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899). He returned to Philadelphia in 1863 to serve in the Civil War, remaining there for the following eight years. During this time Knight supported himself by painting portraits and genre pictures. In 1871, his Philadelphia patrons sent him back to France, where he succeeded so well at painting in the European style that he remained abroad for the rest of his life.

In 1872, Knight began studying under the realist painter Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891). Although unaccustomed to teaching, Meissonier made an exception with Knight, whom he influenced greatly. In 1875, Meissonier assisted Knight in obtaining entry to the prestigious Paris Salon, helping to ensure a favorable judgment of Knight’s entries in the Salon’s annual juried exhibitions. Knight soon moved out of Paris to Rolleboise, a charming village in the Île-de-France region. Here, he began to execute the peasant subjects for which he became so well known. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist was fascinated with the pastoral qualities and simplistic nature of life outside France’s urban centers and his paintings celebrate and idealize a peasant’s way of life. Working toward more natural lighting, a style which dominated painting styles at the time, Knight even built a glass house in his garden, permitting him to work in natural light the entire year.

Although Knight’s paintings picturesque, he avoided an overly sentimental approach. His people carry on their daily tasks, and one can develop an understanding of their character from his sensitive renditions. The lush foliage and landscapes in Knight’s paintings convey the beauty of the fertile French countryside. Knight’s technique was to intensify certain colors in the foreground of his composition, contrasting them against gray skies and subdued backgrounds, which conveyed a heightened sense of reality. The transition from one form to another was accomplished through the exact use of color rather than through an emphasis on shadow and light. Knight’s skillful use of lighting gradations frequently conveyed definite moods. The artist continued to explore the nuances of this style until his death in 1924.

Museum collections featuring works by this artist include:

• Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University;
• The Strong Museum, Rochester, New York;
• Hudson River Museum, New York;
• Detroit Museum of Art;
• Haggin Museum, Stockton;
• Musées Nationaux, Paris;
• Newark Museum, New Jersey;
• Parrish Art Museum, New York