Attributed to Michel Bruno Bellengé (French, Rouen 1726–1793 Rouen)
Oil on canvas
48 3/8 x 55 in. (122.9 x 139.7 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906
Not on view
Michel Bruno Bellengé was born in Rouen into a family of fourteen children and began his training at the local drawing school. Having won three prizes there he began painting flowers on enamel, before graduating to works in oil and membership of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris in 1764; he was presented to the Académie by Jean Siméon Chardin (1699–1779). Bellengé became resident designer at a carpet manufactory at Chaillot in Paris, later known as the Savonnerie, producing paintings to serve as models for carpets, including ones for Queen Marie Antoinette (1755–1783) at Fontainebleau and Versailles about 1779–80. By 1786, however, he was reported to be in great hardship. The Revolution damaged his market, his wife died, and he suffered a stroke. He returned to Rouen and died there at the age of sixty-seven.
Bellengé exhibited paintings, including overdoors, of fruits and flowers at every Salon between 1763 and 1779. This overdoor, however, is not entirely typical of his style, in that it is a good deal more formal than other of the artist's paintings and the recess into the niche is unusual. Vase of Flowers in a Niche was attributed to Michel Bruno Bellengé by Michel Faré in 1984.
[Francesca Whitlum-Cooper 2010]
Monsieur Féral (in 1889); [Georges Hoentschel, Paris, by 1903–6; sold to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1906)
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Illusionism & Trompe l'Oeil," May 3–June 12, 1949, unnumbered cat. (as by Monnoyer).
Montclair, N.J. Montclair Art Museum. "The Illusion of Reality," December 7–28, 1952, no. 26 (as by Monnoyer).
New York. Wildenstein. "Magic of Flowers in Painting," April 13–May 15, 1954, no. 48 (as by Follower of Monnoyer).
Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Museum of Art. "More than Meets the Eye: The Art of Trompe l'Oeil," December 7, 1985–January 22, 1986, no. 16.
West Palm Beach, Fla. Norton Gallery and School of Art. "More than Meets the Eye: The Art of Trompe l'Oeil," March 21–April 27, 1986, no. 16.
A[lfred]. de Champeaux. Portefeuille des arts décoratifs 2 (1889–90), pl. 136, as French school, eighteenth century, in the collection of M. Féral.
André Pératé and Gaston Brière. Collections Georges Hoentschel. Vol. 2, XVIIe & XVIIIe Siècles: Mobilier, Boiserie. Paris, 1908, p. 31, pl. 57 (color), ascribe it to an artist working in the tradition of Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer at the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century.
Margaretta Salinger. "Early Flower Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (May 1950), p. 261, ill. p. 260, as by a follower of Monnoyer.
Fritz W. Neugass. "Magischer-Realismus in der Trompe-l'Oeil-Malerei." Das Kunstwerk 6, no. 1 (1952), ill. p. 23.
Michel Faré. Letter to Mary Sprinson de Jesús. June 10, 1984, calls it a characteristic work of Michel Bruno Bellengé.
Nicole Hoentschel et al. Georges Hoentschel. Saint-Rémy-en-l'Eau, 1999, p. 199, ill. pp. 123, 198 (gallery installations), 199 (color), reproduces photographs of it hanging in Hoentschel's gallery on Cité du Retiro and later on Boulevard Flandrin, where he moved in 1903.
Katrina London inSalvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide et al. Exh. cat., Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. New York, 2013, p. 139 n. 92.
Ulrich Leben inSalvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide et al. Exh. cat., Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. New York, 2013, p. 53, fig. 3.13 (color), notes that it provided the inspiration for four overdoors in the great hall at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, renovated by Hoentschel in about 1905–7.