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Gonzales Coques (1614-1684)-Attrib. "Ninon de L'Enclos", oil on copper miniature, ca.1650
FINAL DISCOUNT PRICE= 2500 USD
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This work was acquired in France in August 2011 together with other 11 portrait miniature portraits of various quality and periods. All 12 of these miniatures were jointly mounted into a very old and strongly damaged wooden tableau.
This good quality oil on copper miniature was titled (on verso of tableau; clip from this original backing is currently glued onto the verso of the present frame - see images nr.6 and nr.9) "Ninon /de L'Enclos. /1640.". It is a portrait of famous courtesan, patron of arts and writer Anne "Ninou" de l'Enclos (also spelled Ninon de Lenclos and Ninon de Lanclos).
Born Anne de Lenclos in Paris, she was nicknamed "Ninon" by her father at an early age. In 1632 her father was exiled from France after a duel, and when her mother died ten years later the unmarried Ninon entered a convent, only to leave the next year.
Based on the remainder of her life, the choice of a convent would seem surprising, but it was really only an aspect of the clear idea that drove her actions: she was determined to remain unmarried and independent.
Returning to Paris, she became a popular figure in the salons, and her own drawing room became a centre for the discussion and consumption of the literary arts. In her early thirties she was responsible for encouraging the young Molière, and when she died she left money for the son of her accountant, a nine-year old named François Marie Arouet, later to become better known as Voltaire, so he could buy books.
It was during this period that her life as a courtesan began. Ninon took a succession of notable and wealthy lovers, including the king's cousin the Great Condé, Gaston de Coligny, and François, duc de La Rochefoucauld. These men did not support her, however; she prided herself on her independent income. "Ninon always had crowds of adorers but never more than one lover at a time, and when she tired of the present occupier, she said so frankly and took another. Yet such was the authority of this wanton, that no man dared fall out with his successful rival; he was only too happy to be allowed to visit as a familiar friend," Saint-Simon wrote. This life (not as acceptable in those days as it would become in later years) and her opinions on organized religion caused her some trouble, and she was imprisoned in the Madelonnettes Convent in 1656 at the behest of Anne of Austria, Queen of France and regent for her son Louis XIV. Not long after, however, she was visited by Christina, former queen of Sweden. Impressed, Christina wrote to Cardinal Mazarin on Ninon's behalf and arranged for her release.
In response, as an author she defended the possibility of living a good life in the absence of religion, notably in 1659's La coquette vengée ("The Flirt Avenged"). She was also noted for her wit; among her numerous sayings and quips are "Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies" and "We should take care to lay in a stock of provisions, but not of pleasures: these should be gathered day by day." A picture of Ninon, under the name of Damo, was sketched in Mlle de Scudéry's Clélie (1654–1660).
Starting in the late 1660s she retired from her courtesan lifestyle and concentrated more on her literary friends — from 1667, she hosted her gatherings at l'hôtel Sagonne, which was considered "the" location of the salon of Ninon de l'Enclos despite other locales in the past. During this time she was a friend of Jean Racine, the great French playwright. Later she would become a close friend with the devout Françoise d'Aubigné, better known as Madame de Maintenon, the lady-in-waiting who would later become the second wife of Louis XIV. "The lady did not like her to be mentioned in her presence, but dared not disown her, and wrote cordial letters to her from time to time, to the day of her death" (Saint-Simon). Ninon eventually died at the age of (at least) 82, a very wealthy woman.
At one point in her life, Cardinal Richelieu offered fifty thousand crowns for a night in her bed. Ninon took the money, and sent a friend instead. "Ninon made friends among the great in every walk of life, had wit and intelligence enough to keep them, and, what is more, to keep them friendly with one another." (Saint-Simon).
Ninon de l'Enclos is a relatively obscure figure in the English-speaking world, but is much better known in France where her name is synonymous with wit and beauty. See Dorothy Parker's poem "Ninon De Lenclos, On Her Last Birthday".
Our image nr.10 shows another replica of this miniature. The latter, offered recently by auction house "Leclere" in Marseille was attributed by auctioneers to well-known Flemish, 17th century artist Gonzales Coques.
Gonzales Coques (1614 Antwerp - 1684 ibidem) was a pupil of Pieter Brueghel II or III in 1626/7. He was probably also a pupil of D. Ryckaert, whose daughter he married in 1643. Coques became a master in the Antwerp Guild in 1640/1. An accomplished portrait painter, he was greatly influenced by Rubens and Van Dyck, although his figures were generally on a smaller scale, and he enjoyed the patronage of successive Governor Generals of the Netherlands. Among his sponsors were also foreign royalties and high aristocrats: for example, Charles I of England commissioned him with many portraits.
Provenance: French noble estate (initially set (together with eleven other miniatures) into wooden tableau (see our mage nr.9).
Creation Year: ca 1650
Measurements: UNFRAMED:8,2x6,2cm/3,2x2,4in FRAMED: 8,6x6,6cm/3,4x2,6in
Object Type: Framed miniature
Style: Portrait Miniatures
Technique: oil on copper
Inscription: titled on verso
Creator: Gonzales Coques
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1614 Antwerp-1684 Antwerp
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