25 October 2015

One Painting, Three Versions

For this ongoing series titled Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I don't usually feature unsold items, but sometimes they are so compelling that I shuffle my priorities. I could have posted a follow-up on the sort of Fischer items featured in Mushroom Harvest, or picked from a handful of other items on my short list.

The item pictured below was titled 'Jean Henri Marlet "19th game of chess match" Staunton - Saint-Amant, oil / canvas', and was offered for US $17.250, 'Buy It Now'. The auction eventually ended with the statement, 'This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available.'

The item's description started,

The author of this composition - well-known French artist of the 1st half of the 19th century Jean Henri Marlet - probably replicated it few other times. The variation offered in 2006 at Sotheby's London differs from "ours" by a single detail, namely by the absence of the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There exists also a lithograph by Alexandre Laemlein (1812-1871), which at some point provoked a somewhat of a scandal.

The rest of the description, plus photos showing details of the painting, are on the seller's web site, Wilnitsky.com: Jean Henri Marlet "19th game of chess match" Staunton - Saint-Amant (16th December 1843), oil on canvas. The story of the 'scandal' was copied from Chesshistory.com, Pictures of Howard Staunton, which offers a second, etched version of the painting and a clue to locating a third version, which appears to be the original.

In C.N. 5259 [should be 4259] Gene Gnandt (Houston, TX, USA) raised the subject of the 1843 illustration of Staunton v Saint Amant, which has been widely published (e.g. as a supplement to the November 1911 issue of La Strat├ęgie). Noting that a key was given on pages 325-326 of volume two of Geschichte und Litteratur des Schachspiels by A. van der Linde (Berlin, 1874), our correspondent added numbers in the reproduction below: [...] For further details about the painting, and a reference to a slightly different key, see C.N. 5395, which provides a link to information we received from Etienne Cornil (Brussels).

The third version (2006 Sotheby's, 'absence of the chandelier') differs from the eBay version by far more than a 'single detail'. All three versions can also be located by an image search on the Staunton - Saint-Amant Matches.

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