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Lot n° 16

Jean-Pierre LAYS (1827-1885)

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Good and Evil; Good and Bad Fruit Original canvas. At the bottom, a No. 313 and on the back a label 14 and I. Signed lower right and dated 1871. Old restorations. Original wood and gilded stucco frame. 194 x 128 cm Exhibitions : - Exhibition of the Society of the Friends of the Arts of Lyon, Palais Saint-Pierre, 1872. - Salon of 1874, n°1108 : Good and Evil; good and bad fruits - Exhibition of the Society of the Friends of the Arts of Avignon, 1876, n°111. History: - Sold by the artist to Auguste-Antoine Genin from Lyon at the end of May 1877, in view of his possible donation to the Grenoble museum; - Galerie Charles Dussere in Lyon at the end of 1888 (see notice in our previous issue). Related works: - Painted sketch on cardboard, 33 x 25 cm, private collection, - Large preparatory watercolour, private collection. Bibliography: - Adèle Souchier, Une visite à l'exposition Universelle de 1872, Revue du Lyonnais, série 3 - n°14, p. 242 - Aimé Vingtrinier, Lays, peintre de fleurs, Lyon, éditeur : H. Georg, 1889, p. 51-52, p. 80 - Catalogue of the exhibition "Les peintres de l'âme Art lyonnais au XIXe siècle", Lyon, musée des beaux-arts, June-September 1981, p. 183, n°190 (sketch) Elisabeth Hardouin Fugier and Etienne Grafe quote an extract from the unpublished manuscript and account book of Laÿs (n°71, column 34) concerning our painting. The key to this painting is given by the inscription in Latin on the false open book, sculpted on the pediment of the quadrangular urn: "opera illorum sequuntur illos". Taken from the Apocalypse of Saint John (chapter 14, verse 13), it means, with regard to the eternal rest of believers who have done good, that their works, their deeds will follow them: all the good that a person can achieve in the course of his or her life counts, and death does not make it disappear. It is therefore the scales of the Last Judgment, decorated with a lion's head, which are represented in front of the bas-relief of the angel with the trumpet. On the heavier tray are the two symbols of the Eucharist, grapes for wine and ears of wheat for bread, and peaches, grouped in threes, designating the Trinity. On the sinister tray, poisonous plants stand on top of prickly bogues of chestnuts, funerary fruits of All Saints' Day and evoking Purgatory. On the ground, at the bottom left, the serpent of evil flees, while on the right, we see immortals, violets and primroses, flowers of eternal life, hope and virtue. In his article on the Salon, the journalist Bepp. wrote in the daily newspaper "Le mémorial de la Loire" of May 30, 1874, page 3, an enthusiastic review: "Mr. Lays has two small paintings of real merit at the Salon: Roses varied, Fruits and a third one which is capital and which is entitled: Good and Evil, the good and the bad fruits. In the middle of the painting, a scale; in each tray, fruits, but very different. Here, pearly plums, peaches with velvety skin, large grapes with small, tight, bloated skins, pomegranates that seem to laugh through all their cracks; all the best that nature offers. In the other tray, the poisonous fruits, the poisonous plants, the Voisin and Brinvilliers of our gardens and fields. Here is the coloquint, the belladonna, the all too famous foxglove, the innumerable troop of mushrooms, authors of so many murders, guilty of crimes without number. What an abominable gathering of villains! Is there not some danger in looking at this heap of monsters for long? Happily, I see that the good fruits are in greater numbers, and that the balance tips to the side of Good."