Adolf Ulric Wertmüller (Swedish, 1751–1811)
128.9 x 95.9 cm (50 3/4 x 37 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Gallery (Gallery 246)
The Swedish painter Wertmuller studied and worked in France from 1772 until 1793, when he settled in America. The subject of this portrait, Jean-Jacques Caffieri, was a leading member of a large family of sculptors in eighteenth-century France. Caffieri stands beside a reduced version of his statue of the seventeenth-century dramatist Pierre Corneille, one from a series of the “Great Men of France.” This painting was the piece required for Wertmuller’s reception into the Royal Academy in Paris. It was shown at the Salon of 1785.
Lower left, on table: A Wertmuller / 1784
Possibly Eugène Kraemer, Paris [see note 1]; by 1910, from Kraemer to Comte Jean de la Riboisière [see note 2]; March 27, 1936, Riboisière sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, lot 9, possibly to Mrs. Meyer Sassoon [see note 3]; by descent to her daughter, Mrs. Derek Fitzgerald, Heathfield Park, Sussex, England; July 3, 1963, Fitzgerald sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 1, to Kleinberger and Co., New York; 1963, sold by Kleinberger to the MFA for £67,800. (Accession Date: September 18, 1963)
 Until 1936, when a false signature was removed, this painting was attributed to Jacques-Louis David. Richard Cantinelli, "Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825 " (Paris and Brussels, 1930), p. 117, no. 174, recorded that it had been acquired from M. Kraemer and belonged to the Comte de la Riboisière. This may refer to the collector Eugène Kraemer. Subsequent authors have not repeated this information, and it has not yet been verified.  It was in the possession of Jean de la Riboisière by 1910, when he lent it to the exhibition "Ausstellung Französischen Rokokokunst," Königliche Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, 1910, cat. no. 76.  According to a letter from Neil Maclaren of Sotheby's, London to Angelica Rudenstine of the MFA (October 31, 1963), Mrs. Sassoon acquired it either at the Riboisière sale or shortly thereafter.
Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow Fund