Verification: 30793b9ef56f65e0



Geneva 1766 – 1849 Geneva

Oil on canvas
30 x 24.5 cm / 11.8 x 9.4 in, with frame 36 x 30 cm / 14.2 x 11.8 in

Alexandre Landre Maison de Ventes, Beaune, Vente courante, 7 February 2022, lot 55 (as "Première partie du XIXème")

Firmin Massot (1766-1849) belongs to that generation of European portrait painters who had the fortunate opportunity to work in an era of truly tectonic change in the portrait genre. The creative language of the era was largely woven from three main aesthetic components. The first is the powerful legacy of the late Rococo era, reflected in a very particular and highly decorative attitude to colour. The second is the influence of sentimentalist aesthetics and the consequent rethinking of the presentation of the model. An entirely new challenge for artists is the portrayal of the inner world of the model, depicted through his emotions. A third important aspect was the growing influence of Classicism, which found expression in a more laconic presentation of form, the rejection of excessive detail. This led to a strengthening of artistic generalisation, both on a formal and technical level.
Massot represents a classic evolution in this context. A pupil of the legendary Liotard, the unsurpassed master of the pastel genre, Massot shows in his early works a consistent fascination with late Rococo aesthetics, characteristic of his teacher's work. His colouristic range is marked by the saturation of colour and the richness and depth of the tonal solutions. In his maturity period, Massot worked extensively with the landscape painter Wolfgang-Adam Töpffer (1766 - 1847), who provided the landscape backgrounds for his portraits. The artist maintained this approach until the early 1800s, or rather until 1807, when Massot went to France for several years. His familiarity with the aesthetics of Empire and high style portraiture has a very strong influence on Massot. His style becomes very concise and the colour takes on an enamel-like clarity.
"The Portrait of the Unknown Lady" from the Maximowicz Gallery is a fine example of Massot's painting, executed after the artist's visit to Paris. The details of the costume are a typical example of the fashion of Paris around 1810. At this time Massot also painted a number of similar chamber portraits, including the portrait of Madeleine Amat née Beurlin (private collection) and the portrait of Madame Jean-Gabriel Eynard, née Anne Charlotte Adélaïde Lullin de Châteauvieux (1793-1868).

Bratislava, 2022 

Base: Canvas

Epoque: XIX century

Epoque: XVIII century

Genre: Portrait

School: Swiss

School: French

Technic: Oil

See also