Fragonard Portrait on View at Bonhams Geneva Prior to Benefit Sale

  • Fragonard's Portrait of François-Henri duc d’Harcourt

    Fragonard's Portrait of François-Henri duc d’Harcourt

    Courtesy Bonhams

A major work by the 18th century French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Portrait of François-Henri duc d’Harcourt, will be on public view at the newly opened Bonhams Geneva office, at 10 rue Etienne-Dumont, 1204 Geneva. Viewing will be from Tuesday 24th September until Thursday 26th September, from 9am to 6:00pm.

Victoria Rey-de-rudder, Bonhams representative in Switzerland, comments: “There are always those rare occasions when the work of an artist who is widely regarded as a genius appears on the market. I am delighted to be celebrating the opening of our Swiss office in Geneva with the exhibition of a selection of works from the Rau Collection, including this wonderful Fragonard.”

The portrait is one of a number of works on show from the renowned collection of the German philanthropist, the late Dr Gustav Rau which Bonhams will be selling in London on 5 December. The proceeds will be used to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF – for the children of the world. 

One of Fragonard’s famous 15 fantasy portraits, The Portrait of François-Henri duc d’Harcourt is the most significant of the artist’s works to appear on the market for many years.  Only two other fantasy portraits remain in private hands making this painting rarer than portraits by Frans Hals, Joshua Reynolds or even Rembrandt.  With a multimillion-pound estimate, it has only changed hands once in its 250 year history when Dr Rau acquired the picture from the Harcourt family in 1971.

Fragonard’s fantasy portraits – often depicting friends and acquaintances - were painted quickly with bold, fluid brush work which anticipated the Impressionists in bravura and technique. This style was referred to by some contemporaries as the artist’s, ‘swordplay of the brush’.  The Portrait of François-Henri duc d’Harcourt is unusual among Fragonard’s fantasy portraits because the subject is identified. Many of the other portraits are personifications of the arts rather than representations of named individuals.

Among the other outstanding works on view are a 15h century depiction of the Crucifixion by an unknown German artist (€1,150,000– 1,700,000); a portrait of the Duchess of Montebello by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon (€800,000-1,150,000); Le grand noyer à l’Hermitage by Camille Pissarro (€230,000-340,000);  Courtyard with flowers by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (€170,000-230,000); Auerhahn, Huhner und Kuken auf einer Terrasse by Tomas Hiepes (€340,000-£570,000); Truthahn, Rebhuhn und Taube auf einer Terrasse also by Tomas Hiepes (€460,000-690,000); Falaises du lot près de Saint-Cirq-la-Popie  (£40-60,000) by Henri Martin (€46,000-70,000) and Farmhouse on the river side by Frits Thaulow (€34,000-57,000).  

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