Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winning Bid: Pretty Little Pictures

Several weeks ago, Reggie was the winning bidder at a country auction of two charming guaches of romantic landscapes.  Of diminutive size, they were painted in the first half of the nineteenth century and are likely French, at least to his eye.  If not French, they are most certainly Continental.

Pretty little pictures on easels on a table
in the drawing room at Darlington House

The two paintings Reggie acquired are shown in the foreground of the above photograph.  Although sold as a single lot, the pictures are not associated--not a pair, not by the same hand, and so on.  Reggie bought them because they are attractive, decorative, and nicely framed.  And he got them at a very reasonable price--less than the cost of a dinner for two in a nice restaurant in Manhattan.

The first--and larger--of the two paintings is really quite well done.  It is a romantic landscape with picturesque tumbledown cottages, a castle with flags flying from its towers, and a body of water in the distance.  The painting includes rustic figures and a little dog joyously frisking about.  The artist (unsigned) deftly depicts the scene at the height of summer, with trees and climbing roses embracing the cottages.  It is a pleasing little picture, and I am glad to have it.  I also like the frame, which I suspect is original.  I date the painting to the mid-nineteenth century.

The painting has some minor losses to its surface, but I do not mind.  I'm not planning on sending it to a restorer, as I think it looks just fine as it is.

The second--and smaller--painting Reggie bought is also a romantic landscape.  It shows two figures in a garden overlooking a body of water, with a classical building (or is it a ruin?) and several boats at sail.  Judging by the clothing depicted, Reggie thinka the scene was painted in the 1820s or 30s, at the latest.

Not as finely executed as the other landscape, this little painting is still skillfully done.  It is clearly old and retains its original frame, and it is signed on the back by the artist (I suspect).

Claire Charlotte Coynart was a better painter than she was a calligrapher, given the crudenes of her signature.  Reggie suspects that she was Mademoiselle Coynart when she painted this pretty little picture, as he believes it is what many of us in America call "school-girl art," done by young ladies of refinement when still of a school age.  In the early nineteenth century in the United States, such young ladies as Mademoiselle Coynart were admired particularly for the needlework pictures they made--some of astonishing virtuosity--while students at the academies where they were educated.

We currently have these little pictures, along with the English eighteenth-century oil portrait in small shown in the first photograph of this post, on easels on an early nineteenth-century New York pembroke table in our drawing room.  Reggie likes small paintings put about in such a manner, and this is not the only table in his house with such an arrangement.  He is always on the lookout for useful easels for such purpose and buys them when he finds them and when his budget allows for it.

Tell me, do you also display paintings on easels in your house?

Photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. Quite a nice selection my dear Mr. Reggie. You did good. It's funny, I find the backs as beautiful as the painting themselves, which happens often, in my case. Please photograph after placing and hanging. We bloggers are the curious types. Oh, one more thing are useing the Old Paris china for the hollidays? I can not get it off my mind! Please, tell me you still have it.

  2. Reggie, beautiful paintings very well displayed - must be a great pleasure to own and view them.

    I have two watercolors framed and displayed on easels - one a 19th century picture of a woman reading by lamplight bought for my 40th birthday in Amsterdam and the second, 21st century, of Shropshire hills painted by a lady in London. Both very different and very valued.

    A Happy Thanksgiving to you and Boy.

  3. CJ: Yes, indeed, one of the pleasures of paintings on easels is the ease of rearranging them, when it strikes one's fancy to do so.

    Kevin: Prior to reading your comment, Boy was planning on using late 19th century Spode on our Thanksgiving table, but when I read him your comment he decided to rather set the table with the Paris porcelain you refer to. And, as I write this, he is doing just that. Thank you!

    Blue: Is this lady, perchance, a fair Rose?

  4. Pretty little pictures, indeed, and even more so on the easles.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

    Eddie + Jaithan

  5. i think it is a fabulous look.
    it is always sophisticated.

    xx happy T Day

  6. Dear Mr. Darling,

    Wonderful little pieces of art. Every detail on them seems to be as carefully placed as your placement of them. I agree with Hollywood forever, Kevin - the backs of paintings are very interesting to me. I have an English mourning piece that was signed on the back by the artist "Philanthropy at the tomb of Howard 1797". How wonderful that the artist took the time to name her piece.

    I'm also happy to read that you've used your beautiful service of Old Paris Porcelain. The color lends itself well to autumn entertaining. I too used mine today.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  7. Oh, these are truly delightful. Great win there! And I love the way you've displayed them with the small easels on your tabletop.

    We have large easels and tend to rotate some of our favorite oils on them. I enjoy doing this very much.

  8. Hi, Reggie -
    Yes, I do, but not always with an easel. Sometimes standing them against the right lamp works well. People do not always expect to see a picture displayed standing on a table like that, even the owner, so it catches the eye most pleasantly and informally. Plus, when one gets hold of a new little jewel, that form of display is wonderful until a more permanent space on a wall can be decided. Great little works by the way :)
    Best -

  9. I started reading your blog when I purchased a wonderful fancy chair with gold paint in fine condition. I have a few of the chairs you mention, purchased years ago in Chicago. Have loved the other postings, thank you.

    Bonnie Johns

  10. Hello Bonnie: Thank you for your comment, and welcome! I am pleased to meet a fellow Fancy Chair Fancier. RD


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