Sale: Drouot Rive Gauche, Paris, 24 – 26 March 1980, lot 127
Sale: Hôtel des Ventes, Enghien, 29 March 1981, lot 132
Hubert Duchemin, Paris (by 2012)
Salon des Artistes Français, Paris, 1875, no. 1714
Objets Extraordinaires, Bordeaux, Galerie l’Horizon Chimérique, 12 December 1991 – 12 January 1992, no. 6
The subject of the painting is described in the catalogue of the Salon des Artistes Français of 1875: “a man has accumulated all sorts of wealth in a vault known only to him and whose door closes with a latch. Finally, there came a day when the latch did not function, and the unfortunate man died upon his useless treasures, and no one could hear his cries or help him.” The anecdote relates to the true story of the tragic death of Claude Pécoil in the time of Louis XIV. The story was recounted by Saint Simon in his and later inspired an opera by André Grétry.
Throughout the 19th century, the subject was systematically evoked as an allegory of greed. The story was turned into a moralising tale, while Claude Pécoil became an archetypal miser.
L’Avare is painted with minute attention to the costume, treasures and environment; the miser is depicted in a strikingly realistic manner, with his face distorted with terror, lying prostrate amidst his treasures.