In the typical off-shoulder child's gown of her time, this c.1830s child is captured in his innocence. Up until about this age, a boy would be dressed in gowns rather than pants, the ease of toileting children being what it was, and his hair would also have been long. Parted on the side for a boy, in the center for a girl, and only when the child was around 4 and 'potty trained' did he undergo the formal change from "mama's infant" to "papa's jeune fils" (young son). His long locks were shorn then, and his transition to pantalon (pants) was a celebrated one. It is of this transition this painting speaks. Hence forth, he is considered a little man, and is accorded more freedom and education than the girls. It's not only a French tradition then, but also elsewhere. The English called it being "in his knickers", signifying the change from baby to young boy. Charming history! Superb capture of that point in a child's life, this! The oil painting on board has information on backside, an artist's signature affirmation, at least, if not signature. The note guarantees it is painted by the hand of painter Martin Disteli, (1802-1844) a listed Swiss Artist. We do not know who this subject is. Obviously an adept portraitist, Disteli was also a caricaturist and his political imagery caricatures are credited with bringing together the French and German graphical traditions.
Very good to excellent condition, the painting is done in oil on panel, so none of the issues of paintings on stretched linen canvas. It is petit, considered as a portrait miniature. Neatly framed, original to the painting, the frame is heavy wood which has been gilded. A beautiful display painting, it has a hint of almost Vermeer lighting and angle to composition. No damage to note. I purchased the little painting from an anonymous estate in France. The frame is 9 1/2" x 8 3/4" and is 1 1/4" in depth. The oil painting is an intimate 7" x 6 3/8".
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