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Post Lot Text
PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LADY, OIL ON PANEL, BY JEAN-BAPTISTE GREUZE
We are grateful to Dr. Edgar Munhall for having confirmed the attribution from photographs. Dr. Munhall has kindly written the following entry.
This Portrait of a Young Woman is a very fine example of the type of portrait Greuze painted during his final years, between 1790 and 1805. Having long ceased painting elaborate subjets, after 1790 smaller lucrative portraits appealed more to the ageing painter. Many of them, like this one, were painted on panel, whose polished surface heightened their luminosity. A fine example is the Portrait of Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux dated to 1790 (Durham, North Carolina, Private Collection), the sitter's hair, incidentally, is styled in the same way as that of the subject of the present portrait. The soft-focus rendering of the eyes, mouth, and draperies is also similar, as is the décolleté gown. But of Greuze's late portraits the closest to the present one both in terms of the artist's tender rendering of the subject, and the painterly effects, is the portrait of Charles-Athanase, Baron Walckenaer, the natural son of Greuze's notary and avid collector of his work, Duclos-Dufresnoy (c. 1788, Paris, Private Collection). Although painted on canvas, this image is almost identical in size, in pose, and rendering. Details such as the highlights in the eyes and on the lower lip are the same. The two portraits could almost be a pair, although that of Walckenaer was painted in about 1788.
The high-waisted, décolleté gown worn by the subject is similar to the one depicted by Greuze in his famous drawing The Departure for the Hunt (Paris, Musée du Louvre) of about 1800. The fashion for this garment à l'antique continued for many years - Boilly depicted it in 1803 (Private Collection) and in 1809 (Paris, Musée Carnavalet), worn by women off all classes. It appears in fashion plates of the mid-1790s and in portraits by David, Ingres, Baron Gérard, and Girodet-Trioson ranging from 1795 through 1809 (see A. Ribeiro, The Art of Dress, New Haven and London, 1995, figs. 97, 120, 122, 124-126). The ruche around the neck is less common, although Boilly represented Madame Houdon wearing one in his painting of Houdon in his studio, from 1804 (Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs).
An inscription on the back of the painting indicates that the painting was part of Princess Woronzow's collection. The portrait does not appear in the catalogue of her posthumous sale or in that of her son Nicolas Stolypine's posthumous (in which three other paintings by Greuze are mentioned). These sales however only included the contents of their villa in Florence and not those of their houses in Russia.