February 13 being the anniversary of the assassination of the Duc de Berry at the Opera, I thought it was interesting that I came across this painting which had belonged to his wife, Caroline of Naples. The description of the painting mentions the novel Madame Royale, saying:
In The Harvest, a dog runs over a bridge towards the harvesters, giving a sense of urgency to the toil which must be completed before the impending storm breaks. The dark grey clouds are rolling in fast and the family of workers are hurriedly stacking the hay bale from the horse cart. Here, Auguste Xavier Leprince has chosen to depict rural labourers as the backbone of France under the Bourbon dynasty. The landscape is rich and plentiful; in a reflection of the idyllic and industrious farmers there is a chicken and her chicks feeding below the cart.Share
The Harvest was previously owned by Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Sicily, Duchess de Berry. The works of Leprince were particularly appreciated by Charles X and the Duchess de Berry (1798-1870); the latter had several paintings by the artist in her collection. Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Sicily had married Charles-Ferdinand d’Artois, Duke de Berry and the future Charles X, who was an important patron of the arts with a vast collection of paintings. The Duke de Berry married the young Princess Marie-Caroline of Bourbon-Sicily in 1816, when she was just 18. In the four years from then, until the Duke’s assassination, the couple had two children: a daughter, Louise; and son Henri, who became Duke de Bordeaux, then Count de Chambord. A painting of the Duchess with her children, dated 1822 is illustrated here (see fig.1 in exhibition cat.). The Duke and Duchess acquired the old castle of Sully in August, 1818, though they spent summers at the Elysée Palace. On 13 February, 1820, the Duc de Berry was murdered, apparently stabbed by a madman, on the steps of the Paris Opera whilst helping his pregnant wife into a carriage. The particulars of the assassination are told in the novel Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal (Neumann Press, 2000).