About This Artwork

Auguste Bernard d'Agesci
French, 1756–1829

Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard, c. 1780

Oil on canvas
32 x 25 1/2 in. (81.3 x 64.8 cm)
Inscribed: HELOISE, ABEL (on the leaves of the open book); LART / DAIME / DE / BERNA (on the spine of the closed book)

Mrs. Harold T. Martin Fund; Lacy Armour Endowment; Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection, 1994.430

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

M.-C. Pahin de la Blancherie, Nouvelles de la République des letters et des arts (January 26, 1785), nos. 24–25: “M. Bernard, actuallment à Rome. Deux tableau: Une femme tient une colombe sur son sein; Une femme qui tient un livre et dans l’expression d’un sentiment tendre…; Du cabinet de M. L’Abbé de Véri” [quoted after Rosenberg and Bailey 2001, p. 207]

Art Institute of Chicago, A Passion for Virtue: An Eighteenth-Century Masterpiece by Greuze, 1995, no cat., as Jean Baptiste Greuze.

Hanover, New Hampshire, Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France, October 4, 1997-January 4, 1998, cat. 29, as Jean Baptiste Greuze, traveled to Toledo Museum of Art, February 15–May 10 and Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, May 31 – August 23, 1998, pp. 20 (color ill.), 155 (color ill.), 154–157; exhibited only in Toledo and Houston.

Publication History

M.-C. Pahin de la Blancherie, Nouvelles de la République des letters et des arts (January 26, 1785), no. 25.

Martha Wolff, “An Early Painting by Greuze and its Literary Associations,” Burlington Magazine 138 (1996), pp. 580–85, fig. 5.

M[artha] W[olff] in Susan Wise and Malcolm Warner, French and British Paintings from 1600 to 1800 in The Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 70-74, 71 (color ill.).

Virginia E. Swain, "Hidden from View: French Women Authors and the Language of Rights, 1727-1792” in Intimate Encounters, Love and Domesticity in 18th-Century France, exh. cat., Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, pp. 26-27, 35, ill. p. 20.

Katie Scott, “Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-century France,” Burlington Magazine 140 (1998), p. 334.

Bernadette Fort, “Accessories and Desire: On Indecency in a Few Paintings by Jean Baptiste Greuze,” Yale French Studies 94 (1998), pp. 149, 150 (fig. 1).

Mary Sherriff, “À rebours. Le problème de l’histoire dans l’interprétation fémininste,” in Régis Michel, Où en est l’interprétation de l’œuvre d’art? (Paris: École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2000), pp. 205-33, fig. 1.

Pierre Rosenberg and Colin B. Bailey, “Not Greuze, but Bernard d’Agesci,” Burlington Magazine 143 (2001), pp. 204–11, figs, 8, 9.

Colin B. Bailey, Patriotic Taste: Collecting Modern Art in Pre-Revolutionary Paris (Yale University Press, 2002), p. 129, color ill. 115, p. 279 (n. 119).

Mary D. Sheriff, Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France (University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 11-12, 202–40, 276-80, fig. 51.

Christian Michel, "Nature and Moeurs: Thoughts on the Reception of Genre Painting in France" in French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century, Philip Conisbee, ed., Studies in the History of Art 72, Symposium Papers 49 (Washington, D.C., 2007), p. 279, fig. 4.

R[ichard] R[and] in Philip Conisbee et al., The Collections of the National Gallery of Art, French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century, Washington, D.C., 2009, p. 163, fig. 5.

Ownership History

Louis Gabriel Marquis de Véri-Raionard (died 1785); his estate sale, Paris, December 12, 1785, lot 74; sold to Devouge for 371 livres [acc. to annotated copies of the catalogue in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague, and Getty Research Institute]. David David-Weill, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris; sold or consigned to Wildenstein, Paris, 1919; sold by Wildenstein, 1924 [acc. to Joseph Baillio’s letter to Martha Wolff, dated September 23, 1994, in curatorial file]. Albert John Kobler (died 1937), New York; by descent to his wife, Mignon Kobler (died 1942) [acc. to Martha Wolff’s telephone conversation with John Kobler, Albert’s son, May 30, 1995, and Chrisopher Apostle, Sotheby's who confirmed that the picture was consigned to Parke-Bernet by the Kobler estate; see his letter to Martha Wolff, dated October 26, 2004, in curatorial file]; sold Parke-Bernet, New York, April 22, 1948, lot 16 (ill.), as Jean Baptiste Greuze, L’Amoureux Desir; Nicholas de Koenigsberg, New York and Argentina [acc. to Parke-Bernet Galleries’ archive card]. Simon Dickinson Inc., New York, by 1994; sold to the Art Institute, 1994.

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