The Expulsion from Paradise

Charles Joseph Natoire (French, Nîmes 1700–1777 Castel Gandolfo)

Oil on copper
26 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (67.9 x 50.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Richardson III, George T. Delacorte Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Heinz II Gifts; Victor Wilbour Memorial, Marquand, and The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Funds; and The Edward Joseph Gallagher III Memorial Collection, Edward J. Gallagher Jr. Bequest, 1987
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Natoire and François Boucher probably met in the Paris studio of François Le Moyne (1688–1737). Each won the Prix de Rome and studied in Italy. By 1737 both were Professors at the Académie Royale.

    This picture must have been intended by Natoire as a tribute to Le Moyne. It was a pendant to a painting by Le Moyne, depicting Adam receiving the forbidden fruit from Eve in the Garden of Eden (private collection). Natoire shared with Le Moyne a predilection for the nude, here depicting with care the rosy and sensual body of the disappointed Eve, a tear glistening on her cheek.

  • Catalogue Entry

    In 1717 Charles Joseph Natoire settled in Paris and within two or three years both he and François Boucher (1703–1770) were to be found in the studio of the academician François Le Moyne (1688–1737). Natoire won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1721 and spent six years at the French academy there, as Boucher would do, but for a shorter period. Both were received into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1734, and both attained the rank of Professor in 1737. They were friends and rivals, both extremely successful, and they occasionally collaborated, for example on the decoration of the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris. However, while Boucher was always a court favorite and eventually succeeded as first painter to the King, Natoire was appointed in 1751 to the directorship of the French academy in Rome, which, while a prestigious position, left him with little time for his own work, increasingly isolated, and in the end forgotten in France by the court and the public alike. In fact, he was among the most gifted painters and draftsmen of the French Rococo.

    In 1737, Le Moyne died, and in 1740 Natoire signed and dated this painting on copper of "The Expulsion from Paradise." It was surely intended as a tribute to Le Moyne, and seems in fact to have been a pendant to a painting of the same size, on copper, by Le Moyne, depicting Adam receiving the forbidden fruit from Eve in the Garden of Eden (private collection; see Images). As evidenced here, Natoire shared with his teacher a profound interest in Italian painting and a predilection for the nude, especially the rosy and sensual body of the disappointed Eve, a tear glistening on her cheek. Adam supplicates, but his angry God casts them out with an emphatic gesture. Copper is a stable support and the modeled strokes and delicate colors survive much as they must have appeared originally.


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Natoire / 1740

  • Provenance

    Pierre Charles de Villette, marquis de Villette (by 1755–65; his estate sale, Paris, April 8, 1765, no. 32, for 332 livres); [Pierre Joseph Lafontaine, until 1798; his sale, Paillet, Paris, February 22, 1798, no. 132, for 200 frs to Renard]; [Miville-Krug, Basel, until 1846; sold to Balzac]; Honoré de Balzac, Paris (1846–d. 1850; inv., 1848); his widow, Eve Hanska de Balzac, Paris (1850–d. 1882; anonymous sale, Hotel des Ventes, Brussels, April 25, 1882, no. 13); [Eugène Fischhof, Paris, until 1913; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 14, 1913, no. 33, for Fr 1,900]; Lizé, Rouen; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 20, 1985, no. 38, for Fr 820,000; [Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York, until 1987; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. 1740, no. 12.

    New York. Stair Sainty Matthiesen. "François Boucher: His Circle and Influence," September 30–November 25, 1987, no. 57.

  • References

    "Catalogue abregé des ouvrages de Mrs les Peintres, Sculpteurs & Graveurs de l'Académie . . . exposés au Salon du Louvre . . ." Mercure de France 39 (October 1740), p. 2272.

    Salon livret. 1740, no. 12 [untitled 1740 Salon livret, published in Collection des livrets des anciennes expositions . . . , Paris, 1869, p.14].

    Sale [Estate Sale of Charles de Villette, père]. Pierre Rémy, Paris. April 8, 1765, no. 32, as "Adam & Eve, après avoir péché: Dieu leur apparoît. Ce Tableau est un des plus beaux de M. Natoire (Charles); aussi l'a-t'il fait pour être pendant à un de son Maître, François le Moine: on entrouve l'Estampe gravée par Jean jacques Flipart, & qui annonce ce morceau dans le Cabinet de M. De Vilette: il est peint sur cuivre".

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. June 14–16, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 290, p. 211], writes on June 15th that the Natoire and the Holbein were delivered that morning.

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. July 11–12, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 301, p. 254], mentions on July 11th having a Louis XV frame made for "notre chère Èv.".

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. May 30, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 287, p. 191].

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. May 31–June 10, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 288, pp. 203–4], writes on June 10th that Miville has sent him the Natoire and a Holbein for 350 francs.

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. June 17–21, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 291, p. 218].

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. September 18–20, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 319, p. 323], writes on September 19th that the Natoire will hang in Hanska's boudoir.

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. June 28–30, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 295, p. 239].

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. August 10–13, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 313, p. 298], states on August 11th that he has received the framed "Adam and Eve".

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Georges Mniszech. July 29, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 310, p. 290].

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. July 17–19, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 303, p. 267].

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. January 24–25, 1847 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 372, p. 533].

    Honoré de Balzac. Inventaire dressé par Balzac du mobilier de son hôtel de la rue Fortunée. [1848], fol. 13v [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, p. 1036], as "Au-dessus du petit cabinet de Venise un 'tableau' de Natoire représentant 'Adam et Ève' dans un cadre Louis XV très richement sculpté et doré"; values it at 400 francs.

    Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. July 27–August 2, 1848 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 432, p. 938].

    Ferdinand Boyer. "Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de Charles Natoire, peintre du roi (1700–1777)." Archives de l'art français, n.s., 21 (1949), pp. 35, 74, no. 6, identifies a red chalk drawing in the Musée Municipal de Saint-Germain-en-Laye as a study for this picture.

    Federico Zeri. Letter to Elizabeth Gardner. October 3, 1972, believes it to be a work of Natoire's French period, with details recalling Sebastien Bourdon.

    Jacques Vilain in De Watteau à David: Peintures et dessins des musées de province français. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts. Brussels, [1975], p. 98, under no. 58, lists the Saint-Germain-en-Laye drawing as preparatory to this picture.

    Jean-Luc Bordeaux. François Le Moyne and his Generation, 1688–1737. Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1984, p. 99, states that it is based on Domenichino's "Expulsion of Adam and Eve" at Chatsworth.

    Dominique H. Vasseur. "'The Temptation of Eve': A New Attribution to Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre." The Dayton Art Institute Bulletin 39 (December 1984), pp. 2–3.

    Colin B. Bailey in François Boucher: His Circle and Influence. Exh. cat., Stair Sainty Matthiesen. New York, 1987, pp. 93–95, no. 57, ill. (black and white and colorpl. 14), as Natoire's only work on copper; discusses its dependence on paintings by Domenichino, as well as works by Coypel and Le Moyne, also on copper; observes that the Le Moyne was also owned by Pierre Charles de Villette, at whose sale in 1765 the two were listed as pendants; remarks that the MMA picture "typifies a peculiarly eighteenth-century taste for a domestic, intimate, and understated reinterpretation of the grand religious themes that had dominated High Renaissance and Baroque art".

    Philip Conisbee. "New York: French 18th-Century Art." Burlington Magazine 129 (December 1987), p. 836, ill.

    Jean-Pierre Cuzin in Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt, 1988, p. 738, ill.

    Everett Fahy in Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1987–1988. New York, 1988, pp. 34–35, ill. (color).

    Selected French Paintings, 1700–1810, Recently on the Market with The Matthiesen Gallery and Stair Sainty Matthiesen Inc. Exh. cat.London, 1989, unpaginated, ill. (color).

    Honoré de Balzac. "1845–1850." Lettres à Madame Hanska. 2, Paris, 1990, p. 191 n. 4, p. 204 n. 1.

    Danielle Oger in Balzac et la peinture. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours. Tours, 1999, pp. 205–6, no. 6, ill. (color), credits Marie-Martine Dubreuil with identifying it with a work formerly in the collection of Honoré de Balzac.

    Roger Pierrot. Ève de Balzac: Biographie. Paris, 1999, p. 200.

    Susanna Caviglia-Brunel. "Le Voyage d'étude en Italie du nord d'un pensionnaire du roi au début du XVIIIe siècle, Charles-Joseph Natoire." Les Cahiers d'Histoire de l'Art no. 1 (2003), pp. 120, 125 n. 88, states that the angel is derived from one in Franceschini's "Assumption and Apotheosis of Saint Catherine de Vigri" on the ceiling of the church of Corpus Domini, Bologna; notes that a study for this figure was sold at Sotheby's, London, March 25, 1982, no. 53, ill.

    Tableaux et Dessins Anciens et du XIXe Siècle. Sotheby's, Paris. June 24, 2009, p. 58, under no. 49.

    Susanna Caviglia-Brunel. Charles-Joseph Natoire, 1700–1777. Paris, 2012, pp. 300–301, no. P.120, ill. pp. 57 (color), 300, calls the drawing in Saint-Germain-en-Laye a copy, and lists a second copy in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans; catalogues a drawing of the figure of Eve (D.299; Horvitz collection, Boston) as done after the painting.

    Yves Gagneux. Le Musée imaginaire de Balzac: Les 100 chefs-d'œuvre au cœur de "La Comédie humaine". Paris, 2012, pp. 17–18, 284, ill. (color).

    Old Master Paintings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. January 26, 2012, p. 148, under no. 217.

  • Notes

    In the catalogue of the 1765 Villette sale this picture is described as the pendant to a work by François Le Moyne representing Adam and Eve before the Expulsion, which was not in the sale. Le Moyne's picture, engraved by Laurent Cars (Bordeaux 1984, fig. 50), is a replica of a larger, lost painting of the subject by the same artist dating to about 1723–25. The present work was engraved by Jean Jacques Flipart (1719–1782) and the engraving was exhibited at the Salon of 1755.

    A highly finished red chalk drawing of this composition in the Musée Municipal at Saint-Germain-en-Laye must be a copy after Natoire.

    "Le Salon d'Ève de Balzac" by Jean Gigoux (oil on canvas, 78.5 x 98.5 cm; Maison de Balzac, Paris) of about 1862 depicts this picture hanging on the wall of the green room in Balzac's Paris house.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History