The Getty Museum has just purchased Louis Léopold Boilly's 1812 The Entrance to the Turkish Garden Café for $4,562,500 at Christies, New York. “It is arguably the artist’s greatest picture,” Getty curator Scott Schaefer was quoted by Artinfo, “and we paid the same price the seller did 20 years ago.” The $4.6 million far exceeds Boilly's previous auction record of $937,500 in 1994. The seller was Australian media tycoon James Fairfax, who bought the painting in 1992.
The 29-by-36 inch canvas depicts the Napoleonic Pinkberry — Café Turc, a Parisian ice cream place so popular that crowds spilled out onto the street. The painting orchestrates 60 figures, including the artist's self-portrait (far right, in top hat) and assorted street entertainers. The stately woman's profile at left is studied in an oil sketch at LACMA.
Schaefer has been trying to build the Getty's French painting collection for some time. In 2000, in a rare show of pre-auction candor, Schaefer vowed to bid for Jean-Francois de Troy's Return from the Ball. Return was the long-lost companion to the Getty's Before the Ball. Nevertheless, and despite the Getty's billions, the museum was humiliatingly outbid. This time, according to Artinfo, "Schaefer sat in the front row… giving zero indication of any Getty interest."