The bust of Georges Mareschal (1658-1736) by François Girardon (1628-1715) had been on the stand of Stuart Lochhead Sculpture at TEFAF Maastricht 2020.
Alexandre Maral, curator at Versailles and expert on Girardon, knew of its existence through a black-and-white photograph and had included it in a catalogue he had compiled. However, he did not know its whereabouts until he was pleasantly surprised to find it when visiting TEFAF Maastricht.
Mareschal was an important figure at the court of Louis XIV and he remained at the king’s side until his death in 1715.
Girardon was the principal designer and sculptor at Versailles and worked on a number of major commissions for the palace and gardens. It is believed this artwork is one of just a few surviving portrait busts by Girardon.
Maral, with a team from Chateau de Versailles, had visited the TEFAF Maastricht fair on the first day and although the event ended early because of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic the deal was agreed between the parties and was completed around 10 months later.
Lochhead said that although there were some delays in the process due to lockdown the process went surprisingly smoothly.
The bust had been in the possession of the sitter’s descendants until the 1980s and then was owned by a US private collector. It had not been seen in public since the early 20th century when it was last exhibited.
Lochhead purchased it from the US and following conservation and extensive research he offered it at TEFAF with an asking price of €2.6m (£2.2m).
Following its arrival in France earlier this year, a video of its journey has been produced by TEFAF which can be viewed on the TEFAF website.
For sales at TEFAF Online 2021 visit the Dealers’ Diary section in ATG issue 2512.