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)
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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 616
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.
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 four years at the French academy there. He and Boucher were received into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1734, and 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 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 Additional Images, fig. 1). Natoire shared with his teacher a profound knowledge of 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.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): C. Natoire / 1740
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]
Paris. Salon. 1740, no. 12 (as "Un petit Tableau représentant Adam & Eve après leur peché").
New York. Stair Sainty Gallery. "François Boucher: His Circle and Influence," September 30–November 25, 1987, no. 57.
"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 (McWilliam 1991, no. 0019).
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. 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 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. June 17–21, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 291, p. 218].
Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. July 11–12, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 301, p. 254].
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. August 10–13, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 313, p. 298].
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 Georges Mniszech. July 29, 1846 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 310, p. 290].
Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. January 24–25, 1847 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 372, p. 533].
Honoré de Balzac. Letter to Ewelina Hanska. July 27–August 2, 1848 [published in Ref. Pierrot 1990, letter no. 432, p. 938].
Honoré de Balzac. Inventaire dressé par Balzac du mobilier de son hôtel de la rue Fortunée. , 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.
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.
Jacques Vilain inDe Watteau à David: Peintures et dessins des musées de province français. Exh. cat., Palais des Beaux-Arts. Brussels, , 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.
Philip Conisbee. "New York: French 18th-Century Art." Burlington Magazine 129 (December 1987), p. 836, ill.
Colin B. Bailey inFrançois Boucher: His Circle and Influence. Exh. cat., Stair Sainty Gallery. 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, Coypel, and Le Moyne, also on copper; observes that the Le Moyne was also owned by Pierre Charles de Villette; remarks that the MMA picture "typifies . . . eighteenth-century taste for a domestic, intimate, and understated reinterpretation of the grand religious themes that had dominated High Renaissance and Baroque art".
Everett Fahy inRecent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1987–1988. New York, 1988, pp. 34–35, ill. (color).
Jean-Pierre Cuzin inGuido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm. Ed. Sybille Ebert-Schifferer, Andrea Emiliani, and Erich Schleier. Exh. cat., Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. Frankfurt, 1988, p. 738, ill.
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).
Roger Pierrot, ed. "1845–1850." Lettres à Madame Hanska. By Honoré de Balzac. Vol. 2, Paris, 1990, p. 191 n. 4, p. 204 n. 1.
Danielle Oger inBalzac et la peinture. Ed. Jean-Pierre Boyer and Élisabeth Boyer-Peigné. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours. Tours, 1999, pp. 205–6, no. 6, ill. (color), credits Marie-Martine Dubreuil as having identified 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.
Old Master Paintings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. January 26, 2012, p. 148, under no. 217.
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).
Susanna Caviglia-Brunel. Charles-Joseph Natoire, 1700–1777. Paris, 2012, pp. 55, 91 n. 478, pp. 97, 300–301, 355, 527, 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 after the painting.
Carol Santoleri. "Honoré de Balzac and Natoire's 'The Expulsion from Paradise'." Metropolitan Museum Journal 49 (2014), pp. 193–99, fig. 1 (color).
Le Moyne's picture was engraved by Laurent Cars (Bordeaux 1984, fig. 50) and 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.
"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.
Artist: Charles Joseph Natoire (French, Nîmes 1700–1777 Castel Gandolfo)Date: 1757Medium: Pen and brown ink, brown and gray wash, pale blue, yellow, and pink watercolor and white heightening over preliminary drawing in pencil and black chalk.Accession: 1975.1.676On view in:Not on view
Artist: Charles Joseph Natoire (French, Nîmes 1700–1777 Castel Gandolfo)Date: 1759Medium: Red chalk, pen and brown ink, gray wash, over traces of black chalk for the figures and animals, heightened with white. Sheet composed of three sections joined together horizontally.Accession: 1975.131.120On view in:Not on view