Le melon entamé by Jean-Siméon Chardin

Le melon entamé, a still life by Jean-Siméon Chardin to be offered for sale by Christie’s in Paris on June 12. Image © Christie’s Images limited.

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Chardin (1699-1779) was a master of the still life. Much admired at the time they were painted, his works continue to be among of the most sought after examples of the genre.

The Marcille family - father François (1790-1856) and his sons Eudoxe (1814-90) and Camille (1816-75) - were major Old Master collectors who were notable for helping to put Chardin back on the map in the 19th century. After François’ death the two sons divided his collection between them.

In recent years Chardin paintings that were part of the Marcille collection have been appearing on the market setting new records for the artist.

Louvre acquisition

In November 2021 Christie’s, in collaboration with Tajan, sold one of his genre subjects, La fontaine (The water urn), for a hammer price of €6m. Then, in March 2022, Artcurial sold his Panier de fraises depicting a triangular mound of wild strawberries, for a hammer price of €20.5m. Both had been part of the Eudoxe Marcille collection. The wild strawberries still life has since gone on to be acquired by the Louvre.

On June 12 Christie’s will offer another painting that was formerly part of the Marcille collection, Le melon entamé, depicting a still life of fruit prominently featuring a large melon with a slice removed and set on top. The 22 x 20in (57 x 52cm) oval oil on canvas painted in 1760 was shown at the Salon the following year where it was displayed alongside its pendant, Le bocal d’abricots, (now in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto) and the Panier de fraises.

Le melon entamé belonged to Camille Marcille and was sold following his death in 1875 when it was acquired by Stéphane Bourgeois, an art dealer acting on behalf of Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild (1825-99).

It comes up for sale in Christie’s Old Master auction in Paris with an estimate of €8m-12m.