A young girl with a bichon frisé signed 'ZUBER-BUHLER' (lower left) oil on canvas 25 3/4 x 21in (65.3 x 53.3cm)
PROVENANCE: Sale, Christie's, New York, 22 June 2007, lot 32.
Fritz Zuber-Bühler was born in 1822 in Le Locle, Switzerland, but moved to Paris at the age of sixteen to begin his training with Louis Grosclaude. He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and then the atelier of François-Edouard Picot. Picot also taught William Bouguereau, Alexandre Cabanel and Léon Perrault amongst others and was a strong proponent of the principles of the Academic tradition.
The young artist traveled to Italy at the age of nineteen and remained there for five years. He studied at the Berlin Academy between 1843 and 1844 and then returned to Paris and began exhibiting his paintings at the annual Salon, making his debut in 1850. Zuber-Bühler continued to exhibit prolifically throughout his career, often entering several paintings in the Salon simultaneously. He also exhibited drawings, pastels and watercolors. In 1867 he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, showing The Pet Kitten, and was also part of the 1877 exhibition in Philadelphia for which he received an award.
His many and various entries suggest to what extent Zuber-Bühler was interested in varying his themes and also how popular with the Salon judges and the public his works were. He continued to show at the Salon until 1891. He died on November 23rd 1896, in Paris. Throughout his career, Zuber-Bühler advanced the theories of the Academic style and adhered to his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
The Bichon Frisé is a very old breed descending from the Barbet or Water Spaniel. The breed originated in the Mediterranean area and is divided into four categories: the Bichon Maltais; the Bichon Bolognese; the Bichon Havanais and the Bichon Tenerife. The last category has become immensely popular recently in the United States and in Europe. It is thought that Spanish sailors introduced the breed to the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. In the fourteenth century Italian seamen brought the breed back to the Continent where they quickly became the favorites of the Italian nobility and the new merchant class. They appeared in France during the reign of Francis I (1515-47), but it was during the reign of Henri III (1574-89) that the breed enjoyed its greatest popularity. The breed was also very popular in Spain and many Spanish artists, including Goya, immortalized the breed in their paintings.