Jean-Marc NATTIER (Paris 1685 - 1766)
Presumed portrait of Mademoiselle de Beaujolais
113 x 145,6 cm
Provenance: sale in Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Maître Maurice Rheims, expert Robert Lebel, November 30, 1956 (addendum to the sale of Dutch paintings of Dr. Wetzlar), n°B, as Nattier and his workshop,
Joueuse de guitare, trace of signature, right on the balustrade, sold with its counterpart, lot A, signed and dated right 1731. Our lot alone obtained 2 060 000 francs; sale in Paris, Palais Galleria, March 21, 1969, masters Maurice Rheims, René G. Laurin, Philippe Rheims, n°175, as Jean-Marc Nattier, Portrait présumé de Mademoiselle de Charolais, soeur duc de Bourbon, trace of signature on the right on the balustrade. Erroneously, a provenance of the Duke of Sutherland and the Sedelmeyer gallery is mentioned, which in fact concerns another version; acquired at this sale by the father of the present owners; private collection in Paris.
Bibliography: Xavier Salmon, catalog of the exhibition Jean-Marc Nattier 1685-1766, Château de Versailles, éditions RMN, Paris, 1999, p. 82: "Knowing the work only by the photographs in the sales catalogs, it is difficult for us to judge its quality. However, its counterpart (cat.1) pleads in favor of an autograph work" (reproduced in fig.1, with probable inversion of the legend with fig. 2).
Our painting is an autograph replica of another version, of identical dimensions, signed and dated 1731 (private collection, op. cit., p.82, n°12). Originally, it was assembled in a pair with a portrait of another princess of royal blood holding a garland of flowers, the presumed portrait of Mademoiselle de Chartres, daughter of the Regent (op. cit., p. 83, no. 13), signed and dated on the right 1731. A third copy of this composition belonged to Karl Lagerfeld (sale of his collection at Christie's New York, 23 May 2000, n°106, as "Nattier et atelier").
These three paintings were considered throughout the 20th century to represent Louise-Anne de Bourbon Condé, known as Mademoiselle de Charolais (1695-1758), third daughter of the Duke of Bourbon. Xavier Salmon in the catalog of the Versailles exhibition of 1999, proposed a new identification of the model with Philippine-Elisabeth d'Orléans (1714-1734), known as Mademoiselle de Beaujolais. Daughter of the Duke of Orleans, she was engaged to the infant Don Carlos, son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. In 1725, the rupture of the marriage of Louis XV with the infanta of Spain leads to the rupture of the engagement of our model with Don Carlos. Philippine returned to France where she met a premature end as a result of the pox at 19 years in 1734. Dressed in a red silk dress, she plays the guitar on a terrace overlooking a sumptuous garden. A fleur-de-lis embroidered on the pillow on the right recalls her noble extraction. The presence, on the left, of a winged putti holding the score gives this realistic portrait the attributes of a mythological figure or a muse. No other artist of this period succeeded better than Nattier in emphasizing the charm and delicacy of female beauty while preserving the nobility required for such aristocratic portraits. As his daughter would later write, he knew how to mix the genres of portraiture and history painting so well that the public did not know which aspect to admire first.
According to Mr. Laniau, whom we thank very much, the guitar in our painting is a work of the Voboam brothers.