Inscription: Signed (lower left): L·Defrance· / Liege
private collection, Paris (until 1870); William T. Blodgett, Paris (from 1870; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, Paris, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–71; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 7.
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Portraits, Figures and Landscapes," January 12–February 4, 1951, no. 16.
Minneapolis. University Gallery, University of Minnesota. "Space in Painting," January 28–March 7, 1952, no catalogue?
Liège. Musée de l'Art Wallon. "Un Double regard sur 2000 ans d'art wallon," April 15–July 16, 2000, not in catalogue.
Michel N. Benisovich. "Belgian Painters of the XVIII Century in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art in America 35 (July 1947), p. 211, fig. 1, as "The Blacksmith".
Michel N. Benisovich. "Les peintres du XVIIIe siècle en Belgique au Metropolitan Museum de New-York." Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art 22, nos. 3–4 (1953), pp. 190–91, fig. 1 [expanded version of Ref. Benisovich 1947].
René Évrard. "Léonard Defrance, le peintre des forges." Industrie 1 (January 1956), p. 25, fig. 2 [see Ref. Dehousse, Pacco, and Pauchen 1985].
H[orst]. Gerson and E. H. ter Kuile. Art and Architecture in Belgium 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, , p. 172, pl. 159.
Joseph Philippe. "Léonard Defrance et les gravures exécutées d'après ses oeuvres." Chronique Archéologique de Pays de Liège 53 (1962), p. 101.
J.-J. Heirwegh. "Léonard Defrance." Études sur le XVIIIe siècle 3 (1976), p. 167 [see Ref. Dehousse, Pacco, and Pauchen 1985].
M[aïté]. Pacco-Picard. Les Manufactures de fer peintes par Léonard Defrance. Liège, 1982, pp. 8–9, pl. 12 [see Ref. Dehousse, Pacco, and Pauchen 1985].
Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 36–38; vol. 2, pl. 18, suggests the influence of Wright of Derby, possibly known to Defrance through prints after Wright's compositions.
Walter A. Liedtke. "Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum—II: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Brouwer, and Others." Tableau 6 (February 15, 1984), pp. 33–34, fig. 18.
Françoise Dehousse, Maïté Pacco, and Maurice Pauchen. Léonard Defrance: l'oeuvre peint. Liège, 1985, pp. 29, 157–58, no. 279, ill.
Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 197, 213, 245, appendix 1A no. 124, ill. p. 213 and fig. 35 (installation photograph).
The subject is closely related to that of several paintings recorded between 1778 and 1793, and the picture has been tentatively identified with the painting of a Forge by Defrance exhibited with an Interior of a Gun Barrel Factory at the Paris Salon of 1786. Both paintings were lent by a Madame de Saint-Mauris, which would correspond with the Paris provenance of The Met's picture.
Dehousse, Pacco, and Pauchen (1985) list two preparatory drawings for this picture (nos. 279a and 279b), both in the Cabinet des estampes, Liège.