Lot 5 (Old Master Paintings and Drawings, 27th August 2020)
CHARLES FRANÇOIS DE LA TRAVERSE (PARIS 1726 - 1787)
Saint John of Patmos
signed in Greek letters on the book lower right
oil on canvas
100.5 x 81.5 cm (39 1/2 x 32 in)
The present work is an extremely rare painted work by Charles de La Traverse; only the second painting (see Tobias burying dead bodies, Musée de l'Echevinage, Saintes, Fig. 1) recorded by the artist who was largely known for his graphic oeuvre. Important groups of his drawings, distinctively quick, lively, and dramatic, are to be found in the collections of the Musée des Beaux Arts, Besançon, the Musée du Louvre, Paris and the Biblioteca Nacional di Espana, Madrid.
The present painting is signed Charles Latraverse in Greek by St. John of Patmos (the island where the Saint has been exiled by the Roman authorities in the late 1st century), on what may well be the Book of the Apocalypse which the Saint wrote. Could it be a self-portrait?
The Saint, leaning on his left hand, lies in a melancholic pose that recalls a drawing by La Traverse of the Allegory of the Melancholy, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Fig. 2). At the feet of the allegorical figure is another book in which the words ‘...ocalipse/Giovan…/Patmos’ are written. Could this be an artistic prophecy?