After five and a half minutes of bidding, it was hammered down at €20.5m (£17.425m) at Artcurial (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) in Paris on March 23.
Estimated at €12m-15m, the 15 x 18in (38 x 46cm) work was offered by Artcurial with Old Master expert Cabinet Turquin.
According to Le Figaro, it was bought by New York dealer Adam Williams in the room, bidding against a US private collector.
The result beats the previous top price for the artist set last November at Christie’s Paris of the artist’s La Fontaine (The Water Urn) which took €6m (£5.1m).
Chardin is known for still-lifes and genre studies (his oeuvre numbers around 120 examples of still-lifes) and the Le panier… comes from the same source as Christie’s painting: the Marcille collection.
The Marcilles – father François (1790-1856) and sons Eudoxe (1814-90) and Camille (1816-75) – were a dynasty of art collectors who rediscovered 18th century painting. François built up a collection of almost 4500 works by artists of the period including Chardin and was instrumental in reviving his reputation (the Marcille collection featured no fewer than 30 works by the artist). The massive collection was then divided between the two sons and Le panier… had remained in the hands of Eudoxe’s descendants until this week.
Chardin’s work was inspired by the Northern, Dutch and Flemish painters of the previous century and this painting, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1761, has similarities to depictions of bowls of strawberries by artists such as Jacob van Hulsdonck and Louise Moillon. Although his still-lifes often featured the same objects – silver goblets, teapots, hams, plums, melons and peaches – this is the only known example to feature strawberries.