The present painting is a version of Nattier’s portrait of Jeanne-Henriette de Lalleu, Madame Dupleix de Bacquencourt, the prime version of which is signed and dated 1735 and is today in a private collection (see X. Salomon, op. cit., cat. 16).
Jeanne-Henriette de Lalleu (1709-1736) was born to a bourgeois family of merchants in Paris, daughter of Guillaume de Lalleu (1679-1747), a notary, counselor to the king and échevin of the city of Paris and his wife, Marie Jeanne Savalette, daughter of a royal notary, who had married on 18 April 1706. Jeanne-Henriette married Charles-Claude-Ange Dupleix de Bacquencourt (1696-1750) at the parish church of Saint-Paul in Paris on 19 March 1724, when the bride was 15 years old. An immensely wealthy fermier-général, Charles-Claude-Ange Dupleix was a member of Louis XV’s financial advisory council who was ennobled by the king in 1734, and held title over numerous landed estates, among them Bacquencourt, Perle, Cigne, Bussy, Pernant and Montrouge. (Dupleix’s portrait was painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1738; private collection.) To distinguish himself from his younger and more famous brother, the colonial administrator Joseph-François Dupleix, he became known as Dupleix de Bacquencourt. Jeanne-Henriette and Charles-Claude-Ange had three sons before her untimely death on 1 January 1736, aged 26 years old.
As evident in the present lot, no artist of his time was better able than Nattier to convey the charm of feminine beauty without sacrificing the dignity and physical presence required in portraits of great ladies. He depicts Madame Dupleix in a favorite guise: as a vestal -- perhaps suggested by the sitter’s own modesty and virtue – dressed in a simple robe and ornamented with pearls alone, and paints her in a nearly monochromatic color scheme of ivory, white and cream.
The present painting is identical to the primary version of the portrait of Madame Dupleix de Bacquencourt , although lacking the signature and date that Nattier always reserved for the first version of his compositions. If it lacks the sparkle and spontaneity of the original, it is executed with a competence that seems typical of the replicas regularly produced by Nattier and his workshop.
Another version of the composition, carrying a presumably false signature and date of ‘1756’, was sold in Versailles on 28 May 1963 and again in New York on 8 November 1963, and reappeared at auction at Christie’s Paris, 15 December 2004, lot 535, as “d’Aprés Nattier” (see X. Salmon, op.cit., p. 93, under no. 16, “Oeuvres en Rapport”).