ALEXIS GRIMOUX (Romont circa 1680 – Paris 1733 Or 1740)
A Girl in a Plumed Hat and Ruff Collar
sanguine on cream colored paper
8 3/8 x 5 ¾ inches (21.5 x 14.5 cm.)
Henry S. Reitlinger sale, Sotheby’s, London, April 14, 1954, part V, lot 314 where purchased by
Alister Mathews, Poole, Dorset
Flint, Michigan, Flint Institute of Arts, The Art of Collecting, November 27, 2015 - December 3, 2015, no. 49
Alexis Grimoux was born in Argenteuil, near Paris, on May 24, 1678, the son of a Swiss Guard to the King. In 1704 he married Gabrielle Petit, a niece of the tavern-keeper Procope, whose house in Paris was a meeting-place for artists and intellectuals. The following year Grimoux was accepted by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Although instructed by the Académie to paint portraits of the sculptor Jean Raon and the painter Antoine Coypel, he failed to present either picture, and in 1709 his enrollment was annulled. As a result, he joined the Académie de St Luc.
Trained by François de Troy in a tradition of rigorous seventeenth-century classicism, Grimoux brought to the warm palette and considered composition of his master a certain audacity of handling that presaged developments in French painting of the eighteenth-century. As Chardin would a generation later, Grimoux looked to Dutch painters of the Golden Age for inspiration. While he is famed for genre scenes peopled with soldiers and musicians, his vibrant intimate half-length portraits exerted a strong influence on Fragonard. Grimoux’s success was such that he often repeated the same types, such as the Young Pilgrim Boy and Girl, 1725, Uffizi, Florence, reminiscent of his Utrecht predecessors, conceived in the same tradition, as pendants.
Grimoux painted a number of self-portraits. Their roots can also be found in Dutch seventeenth-century art, especially Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Judith Leyster. He depicts himself as a jolly drinker, raising his wine glass as if toasting the viewer while grasping the decanter of wine in his other hand, or just wearing floppy hats. Examples of self-portraits can be found in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; the Louvre, Paris; The Musée Magnin, Dijon; and in the Worcester Art Museum.
Henry Scipio Reitlinger was a noted collector and scholar of old master drawings. In 1922 he published a handbook on how to start a collection as well as a book on old master drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum. When Sotheby’s London dispersed his collection it took many sales to handle all the property. When this drawing appeared at auction it was part of a larger sheet that included a boy on the left-hand side.