Serving the Community since 1964
"Le Tableau Parlant," Narrative Oil Masterpiece by Julien-Leopold Boilly

Julien-Leopold Boilly (1796 - 1874) was a French artist who worked in lithography, watercolor, and oil painting. His father Louis-Leopold was a renowned French printmaker and portrait artist who painted a number of genre paintings during France's tumultuous revolutionary years.

Boilly the Younger is most well-known for his portrait lithographs of the Iconographie de l'Institut royal de France (1820 - 1821) and for his watercolor caricatures of famous French mathematicians published in Album de 73 portraits-charge aquarellés des membres de l’Institut (1820), including the only known survivng portrait of Andrien-Marie Legrende.

He also worked in miniatures and oil paintings, where most of his output consisted of portraits, landscapes, genre paintings, and a number of still lifes employing trompe l'oiel techniques evoking the rich contrast and dimensionality of even the most mundane settings.

His most evocative works depicted lively, crowded indoor scenes of highly characterized individuals in emotional settings. Recently, his work The Auction, possibly depicting the auction of sculptor Philippe III Caffieri's estate, sold for $285,807 at Sotheby's.

Le Tableau Parlant is another of Boilly's busy and dramatic scenes, this time depicting the climax of the titular one-act opera-comique by Andre Gretry, premiered in 1769. In the scene, the ingenue Isabelle, believing her fiance Cassandre to be absent, rhetorically asks his portrait permission to marry her lover, Leandre, who had just returned from a long absence, only to find Cassandre hiding behind the portrait. All individuals in the scene express unique shock at the discovery, and the composition absolutely sings with second-hand embarrassment.

For pricing information about this hilarious and historic masterpiece, please contact us at 818-781-4232.