ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
New York-based Rehs Galleries Inc., the New York gallery specializing in 19th and 20th-century works of art, presents a significant early work, Harvester’s Rest, by French Realist artist Julien Dupré that incorporates elements rarely found in Dupré’s oeuvre.
Julien Dupré was born in 1851 and grew up in the Marais district of Paris, one of the city’s oldest and most diverse quarters. While his father was a jeweler, Julien was apprenticed to a lacemaker’s shop in the late 1860s, perhaps because of his aptitude for drawing. In 1872, Dupré enrolled in a sketching class at the École des arts décoratifs, where he studied with Monsieur Laporte to prepare for his application to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Once accepted, he entered the studio of Isidore Pils (1813-1875) and, after 1875, the studio of Henri Lehman (1814-1882), where he met Georges Laugée (1853-1937), who would become a lifelong friend, and whose sister he would marry in 1876.
Harvester’s Rest (c.1881) is one of three known paintings on this theme executed between 1880 and 1882. Among those, two had identical titles, Femme versant à boire, and both were in a horizontal format. The first, from 1880, features three figures, while the second has two figures; the latter was sold by Rehs Galleries in 2001 and again in 2015. The gallery is still researching the provenance of Harvester’s Rest but believes that the work’s original title was Le gouter dans les foins (1881), purchased by Goupil & Cie for 1500 francs. If confirmed to be this work, soon after, it appears to have become part of the Hercules Louis Dousman II collection. Dousman was a wealthy Wisconsin socialite and avid art collector. In 1884, Dousman sold his collection at a New York auction, and the description of lot 39, which was titled Noonday Rest, matches the format (vertical) and composition (three figures) of this painting. The catalog also included the following description: “Three peasants have been working hard from early sunrise making hay. Now comes the time for the noonday rest. To the French peasant, it means true comfort and a petit boire. One of the haymakers, a typical French village maiden, is pouring out the vin ordinaire. The rustic with wooden sabots to whom she is giving a mug of the good French wine will enjoy that drink with as great satisfaction as the Lord of the Domain. It is the reward of honest work, the solace necessary for a morning well performed. His male companion, from whose pipe bowl the smoke is wreathing, looks as happy and jolly as his friend and co-laborer.” Two years later, Dousman passed away at the age of 37.
The beautiful, stoic woman featured in Harvester’s Rest is also central to the other two early 1880s paintings. But what makes this one a little different is that she is wearing what appears to be a gold ring on the middle finger of her right hand, which is said to symbolize power, balance, and order. It is also interesting to note that the inclusion of a ring on any figures in Dupré’s works is extremely rare; less than a handful are known to exist.
Considering the painting’s quality and complex subject matter, Harvester’s Rest ranks among Julien Dupré’s more important works from the early 1880s and can be viewed on the gallery’s website (www.rehs.com). The painting is listed and illustrated in Rehs Galleries’ online Julien Dupré Catalogue Raisonné (www.juliendupre.org), inventory number R1004.