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Louis de Boullogne II (France 1654-1733)

The Supper at Emmaus

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 14 – 18 June 2022

Lot 630 Louis de Boullogne II (France 1654-1733). The Supper at Emmaus. Signed and dated lower center L de Boullongne fecit 1704. Oil on relined canvas, 84.5 x 102 cm.


400.000 – 600.000 SEK
€ 38.000 – 57.000


Dr Frank Hayward’s sale, Christie’s, London, 14 June 1929, lot 92, as Louis Boullogne, The Breaking of the Bread (27.6 gns to Leger).
Ester Trollér (1890-1979), Malmö, acquired at auction in Malmö in the 1930s.
Thence by descent within the family.


La Grande Gallerie du Louvre, Paris, ”Liste des Tableaux et des Ouvrages de Sculpture Exposez dans la Grande Gallerie du Louvre, par Messieurs les Peintres, & Sculpteurs de l’Académie Royale, en la presente année 1704”, September-November 1704, VIII. Trumeau sur l’eau, second rang as ”Jesus-Christ reconnu par les Disciples d’Emaüs dans la fraction du pain”.


Liste des Tableaux et des Ouvrages de Sculpture Exposez dans la Grande Gallerie du Louvre, par Messieurs les Peintres, & Sculpteurs de l’Académie Royale, en la presente année 1704, p. 16/7.
Le Comte de Caix de Saint Amour, Les Boullongne. Une Famille d’Artistes et de Financiers aux XVIIe et XVIII Siècles. Ouvrage Illustré de Cinq Portraits Hors Texte, Et Renfermant Le Catalogue Raisonné de 588 Oeuvres Des Artistes de Cette Famille, 1919, p. 269, no. 396.
Dominique Brême & Frédérique Lanoë, 1704 le Salon, les Arts et le Roi, 2013, p. 65.

In context

The rediscovery of Louis de Boullongne’s important “The Supper at Emmaus”, exhibited at the Salon in 1704

The present painting’s recent reappearance from a Swedish private collection is an important rediscovery and perhaps among the most important to have ever been presented in these premises. Here is a beautiful example of French painting from the so-called Grand Siècle recorded as having been exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1704, by an artist who may perhaps not be widely known today, but who made an extraordinary career during his lifetime. In fact, Louis de Boullogne was the first artist ever to become rich and famous by his art, he was ennobled in 1724 and was eventually appointed Premier Peintre du Roi in 1725. 

“The Supper at Emmaus” is a demonstration of the majestic grace for which Boullogne was so much admired at the time and by which he brilliantly renewed the classical tradition into a lighter idiom. Whereas Nicolas Poussin and Charles le Brun had aimed at establishing a classical art based on strict intellectualism, Boullogne’s classicism is eclectic in character and serves the creation of paintings of pure elegance and beauty, such as seen here. Boullogne reached this goal by a superb composition and an astonishing handling of colour, in which Caravaggio’s painting of 1601, now in the National Gallery, London, resounds in a genial way. Similar is the focus on the dramatic moment when Christ breaks the bread and is recognized by his disciples (Luke, XXIV:30/1). Boullogne certainly knew Caravaggio’s masterpiece from his own inspection during his years in Rome, as it was in the collection of Cardinal Scipione Borghese at the time. 

Louis de Boullogne II was born into an artistic family in Paris in 1654. He was the youngest of four children of Louis de Boullogne I, himself a painter, who had been among the founding fathers of the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1648. As his brother Bon and his sisters Genevieve and Madeleine Louis received his first training from his father and subsequently followed drawing lessons at the Académie. After having won the Grand Prix de Peinture, he left for Rome in 1675 from where he would return in 1579. A lightning career would follow with prestigious commissions for Versailles in 1680, for the Trianon and Meudon in 1700/2 and the Chapelle Saint Augustin in the Invalides in Paris in 1703/4 among others. And while his artistic success grew, Boullogne’s administrative career at the Académie followed suite, as in 1690 he was appointed professeur adjoint, in 1694 professeur, in 1704 recteur adjoint and finally in 1717 recteur. 

Exhibition catalogue, Grande Gallerie du Louvre, 1704.
Exhibition catalogue, Grande Gallerie du Louvre, 1704.

As pointed out by P. Rosenberg in the introduction to 1704 Le Salon, les arts et le Roi, 2013, Louis de Boullogne II belonged to the generation of painters, such as Charles de la Fosse, Jean Jouvenet and Antoine Coypel, who were active in the years 1785–1715 at the very end of the reign of King Louis XIV. Their oeuvres visualize the taste at the end of the Grand Siècle when the debate between the Poussinistes and Rubénistes at the Académie – the first preferring outline, the second color as basis instruments for art – had finally settled in favor of the Rubénistes. In Jules Hardouin Mansart (1646–1708), who in 1699 had been appointed as Surintendant des Batiments du Louis XIV et Protecteur de L’Academie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture and especially in his conseiller Roger de Piles they had found strong support for their cause. De Piles was a fervent Rubéniste and had published his Dialogue sur les Couleurs in 1673. “The Supper at Emmaus’s” coloristic qualities testify to the artistic trend at the time.

The present painting’s importance is confirmed by its inclusion in the Salon of 1704, which took place in the Grande Galerie du Louvre in Paris from September to November, and which was reconstructed in the Musée du Domaine departemental de Sceaux in 2013, on the basis of the Liste des Tableaux et des Ouvrages de Sculpture, which accompanied the exhibition. As confirmed in the introduction of the Liste, the exhibition had as its purpose to instruct the visitor on the Académie’s role ”pour la perfection des Beaux Arts”. It was thus a perfect showcase of the taste of the time. The total of the works of art on display numbered 555, with the sculptures situated in the center of the Grande Galerie and the paintings divided over 17 so called trumeaux on each side, one ‘sur la cour’ and the other ‘sur l’ eau’. Indeed, the Grande Galerie du Louvre, built by Henri IV, is situated along the river Seine and connects the old Palace du Louvre with the Tuileries Palace. It looks out on the Carré du Louvre on one side and the river on the other.

Louis de Boullogne was represented with 18 paintings. They were displayed according to his rank at the time as professeur at the Académie on the VIIIth trumeau with “The Supper at Emmaus” to be seen on the side of the river at second rang, with paintings of “Venus and Adonis” (untraced) and “The Birth of Bacchus” (now Musée Calvet, Avignon) next to it.

The present “The Supper at Emmaus” is the fifth painting to have reappeared from the group by Louis de Boullogne exhibited at the 1704 Salon. Besides the already mentioned “Birth of Bacchus”, now in Avignon, that of “Rinaldo and Armida” of 1704, was sold at Christie’s London, 9 July 1999, lot 49, the one of “Joseph” sold by his brothers was sold at Kohn, Paris, 27 March 1996, lot 84, that of “The Rape of Proserpina” was sold at Sotheby’s New York, 30 January 1998, lot 284 while that of “Venus and Vulcan” of 1703, is now in the Helena and Guy Motais collection, Narbonne (D. Brême, op. cit., p. 65).

The 1704 Salon was the last exhibition of members of the Académie to take place under the reign of King Louis XIV and the sixth of its kind, only preceded by the ones of 1667, 1669, 1671, 1673 and 1699. Despite France’s economic depression and the lack of success in the Spanish war of succession, the exhibition took place under a positive atmosphere due to the birth of the Duc de Bretagne, Louis XIV’s greatgrandchild, in September. It was taken up by the Académiciens to show the vitality of the French art under Royal patronage.

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Sofie Bexhed


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Fredrik Fellbom


Skulptur och grafik
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