Aix-en-Provence, 1700 – Paris, 1783
Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple
Pen, black ink and oil on paper laid down on board.
423 x 540 mm – 16 5/8 x 12 1/4 in.
Provenance: Paris, Didier Aaron gallery, December 2015 ; European private collection ; Paris, Artcurial sale, 9 June 2021, n° 8.
Michel-François Dandré-Bardon was born in 1700 in Aix-en-Provence where he first studied law. In 1720, he decided to pursue his studies in Paris but instead, he became interested in painting and entered the studio of Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, also from Aix. In 1723, he was admitted in Jean-François de Troy’s studio. The winner of the Académie Royale second prize, he went to Rome where he stayed until 1731. On his way back, he stopped for a six months sojourn in Venice, which proved to be decisive on the elaboration of this style. Made an agréé of the Académie Royale in 1734, he was received in 1735 with his painting The Ambition of Tulia (Montpellier, Musée Fabre). From then on, Dandré-Bardon led a successful career, in Provence, where he received prestigious commissions and was appointed the director of the Marseille École des Beaux arts, as well as in Paris where he definitively settled in 1755. Suffering from palsy as from 1770, he remained a teacher and became the rector of the Académie Royale in 1778. He was also the founder of the Académie in Marseille.
This oil sketch is typical of Dandré-Bardon’s style, both by the color range, mostly blue and pink, almost purple, and by the virtuoso pen line. The theatrical composition, with figures standing before a colonnade opening on a landscape, evokes the interior of a temple and shows the influence of Venetian Settecento. This work can favorably be compared to Allegory of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aix-en-Provence, musée Arbaud). Dandré-Bardon treated the same subject, but vertically, in 1734.
The draughtsman’s work – pen under-drawing of the composition and sinuous figures outlining – is perfectly visible in this sketch, which, halfway between drawing and painting, bears distinct traces of his « hand ». Such details as lost profiles and small triangular noses are also characteristic of Dandré-Bardon.
Condition report – oil on paper laid down on cardboard (modern).
Examination under U.V. light: Very thin tear at the bottom left, below the Virgin’s white dress. Another tear in the upper part between the two columns. Slight abrasions on the edges due to the frame. The paint is in a good state of conservation.
 Daniel Chol, Michel François Dandré-Bardon ou l’apogée de la peinture en Provence au XVIIIème siècle, Aix-en-Provence, 1987, p.58, reproduit.
 Daniel Chol, op. cit., p. 82, n° 29, reproduit.