Vml2aWVuIHdvcmsgbG93IHJlcyBwaWMucG5nChiswick Auctions has announced the private sale of a re-discovered art work by the great French master of pastels Joseph Vivien (Lyon 1657 – Bonn 1735).

The work titled: Lady shown in the Guise of Minerva has been acquired by the Friends of The Sinebrychoff Museum in Helsinki, through Chiswick Auctions in London. It was purchased for £17,000.

Commenting on this important sale, Laetitia Masson, head of old master paintings and drawings at Chiswick Auctions, said: “I am thrilled that this rediscovered pastel portrait, which has undergone much research by ourselves and an external expert, has now found such a good home. It is one of the best examples of the mythological portrait genre that was in vogue in the early 18th century Europe and is one of the finest examples of Joseph Vivien's talent as a pastellist.

The pastel technique was in use as early as the Renaissance in Italy, and its wider-spread use of the medium in Europe dates from a century later, but it was in France in the 18th century that the medium reached its apogee, aesthetically moving ever closer to painting as colour, not line, came to dominate.

Commenting on the work, Art Historian Neil Jeffares said: “Joseph Vivien was the dominant pastellist of the later years of Louis XIV and the Régence, taking the medium to an unprecedented level in terms of tonal range, bravura composition and even physical size.

His work is highly finished, intended to demonstrate that pastel was the equal of oil painting. Today however he is overshadowed by later artists. So I was delighted to be shown one of his works that had lost its attribution and to recognise in the technique and even the materials used, the hand of an artist who in his day was known as the French Van Dyck.”

Other especially fine examples of Vivien’s pastel portraits can be found in the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Alte Pinakotek in Munich and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.