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Oil painting - Portrait of a Lady called Jeanne de Marigny
  • Portrait of a Lady called Jeanne de Marigny
    Beaubrun, Charles, born 1604 - died 1692
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Portrait of a Lady called Jeanne de Marigny

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (painted)

  • Date:

    1650 - 1660 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beaubrun, Charles, born 1604 - died 1692 (artist)
    Beaubrun, Henri, born 1603 - died 1677 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    566-1882

  • Gallery location:

    Leighton, room 109

Henri (1603-1677) and Charles Beaubrun (1604-1692) were two cousins, whose careers are virtually indistinguishable. They were both trained by their uncle, Louis Beaubrun (died 1627), and became portrait painters as the court of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. In 1648, they were among the founders of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture where they became professors.

This painting is called portrait of Jeanne de Marigny although very little is known about her life and no other portraits of her have survived. The sitter is here depicted in a lavish satin dress in blue and orange with several strings of pearls, typical of the 1650s’ fashion in France. The Beaubrun were highly regarded for their state portraits and provided a wide range of female portraits, which appears to be an important testimony of the aristocratic representation in 17th-century France although they all look quite mechanically executed.

Physical description

Three-quarter length full-face portrait of a lady facing the spectator; she has fair hair arranged in ringlets surmounted by a string of pearls, she wears elaborate satin dress in gold, blue and orange/red, also ornamented with pearls. Her left hand rests on her hip and holds up her skirt in which are trapped some necklaces and gold coins. From her right hand she holds out two necklaces while some coins are dropping out. In the background on the left is a landscape under a cloudy sky; on the right is a tree.

Place of Origin

Paris (painted)

Date

1650 - 1660 (painted)

Artist/maker

Beaubrun, Charles, born 1604 - died 1692 (artist)
Beaubrun, Henri, born 1603 - died 1677 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 128 cm estimate, Width: 84.5 cm estimate

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix-xx

John Jones (1800-1882) was first in business as a tailor and army clothier in London 1825, and opened a branch in Dublin 1840. Often visited Ireland, travelled to Europe and particularly France. He retired in 1850, but retained an interest in his firm. Lived quietly at 95 Piccadilly from 1865 to his death in January 1882. After the Marquess of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Jones was the principal collector in Britain of French 18th century fine and decorative arts. Jones bequeathed an important collection of French 18th century furniture and porcelain to the V&A, and among the British watercolours and oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A are subjects which reflect his interest in France.

See also South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Jones Collection. With Portrait and Woodcuts. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 11, Henrietta Street. 1884.
Chapter I. Mr. John Jones. pp.1-7.
Chapter II. No.95, Piccadilly. pp.8-44. This gives a room-by-room guide to the contents of John Jones' house at No.95, Piccadilly.
Chapter VI. ..... Pictures,... and other things, p.138, "The pictures which are included in the Jones bequest are, with scarcely a single exception, valuable and good; and many of them excellent works of the artists. Mr. Jones was well pleased if he could collect enough pictures to ornament the walls of his rooms, and which would do no discredit to the extraordinary furniture and other things with which his house was filled."

Historical significance: Formerly attributed to Nicolas (1606-1668) and then Pierre Mignard (1612-1695), Charles Sterling reattibuted this painting to Charles and Henri Beaubrun. An exact copy of 566-1882 in miniature is in the Royal collection, Windsor (RCIN 421458), and it was in fact not unusual that miniaturists copied the paintings of renowned artists. For instance, two miniatures after Beaubrun's portraits of the Queen Marie-Thérèse and the Grand Dauphin were made by Joseph Werner (1637-1710), Musée de l'Histoire de France, Château de Versailles.
The sitter is traditionally identified as Jeanne de Marigny whereas very little is known about her life and no other portraits of her are known. She is depicted in profile while facing the spectator and wears a lavish satin dress in blue and orange with puffed leaves and a tight corset pervaded by strings of pearls, typical of the French fashion of the 1650s. Some coins are dropping out of her hand, a symbolic elements in the 'vanitas' theme, which invite to a meditation upon death but may also allude to the vanity personified
566-1882 is a fine example of the Beaubrun's production of female portraits, which always present the sitter in the same position: three-quarter profile, generally facing left, with very little variations in the depiction of the long heavy hands and arms while the lines of the boneless shoulders and neck appear also very similar from one sitter to another. The background can be either a dark neutral setting or a landscape in which case it was most likely depicted by another artist.
This portrait resemble very much other painting attributed to the Beaubrun, especially the Portraits of Anne of Austria with the Grand Dauphin, Prado Museum, Madrid (P02291), La Grande Mademoiselle, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, and the portrait of Claire-Clémence de Maillé, Princess of Condé, Duke of Maillé collection, Château de Châteauneuf-sur-Cher, who is depicted in a very similar blue and orange dress.
The Beaubrun achieved a considerable success as court painters but their art became gradually old-fashioned during the second half of the 17th century. Although their output must have been quite prolific, only a few paintings had survived, a number of which may still be wrongly attributed to Mignard. Their oeuvre appears particularly interesting from an iconographical point of view and must be therefore considered as an important testimony of the 17th-century aristocratic representation in France.

Historical context note

In his encyclopaedic work, Historia Naturalis, the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder described the origins of painting in the outlining of a man's projected shadow in profile. In the ancient period, profile portraits were found primarily in imperial coins. With the rediscovery and the increasing interest in the Antique during the early Renaissance, artists and craftsmen looked back to this ancient tradition and created medals with profile portraits on the obverse and personal devise on the reverse in order to commemorate and celebrate the sitter. Over time these profile portraits were also depicted on panels and canvas, and progressively evolved towards three-quarter and eventually frontal portraits.
These portraits differ in many ways from the notion of portraiture commonly held today as they especially aimed to represent an idealised image of the sitter and reflect therefore a different conception of identity. The sitter's likeness was more or less recognisable but his particular status and familiar role were represented in his garments and attributes referring to his character. The 16th century especially developed the ideal of metaphorical and visual attributes through the elaboration of highly complex portrait paintings in many formats including at the end of the century full-length portraiture. Along with other devices specific to the Italian Renaissance such as birth trays (deschi da parto) and wedding chests' decorated panels (cassoni or forzieri), portrait paintings participated to the emphasis on the individual.
Portrait paintings were still fashionable during the following centuries and extended to the rising bourgeoisie and eventually to common people, especially during the social and political transformations of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, painted portraits were challenged and eventually supplanted by the development of new media such as photography.

Descriptive line

Oil on canvas, 'Portrait of a Lady called Jeanne de Marigny', attributed to Charles and Henri Beaubrun, 1650-1660

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: 1973, p. 22, cat. no. 17.
B. Long, Catalogue of the Jones Collection, 1923, p. 29 f.
C. M. Kauffmann in Apollo, xcv, 1972, p. 180, fig. 5.
J. Wilhelm, 'Quelques oeuvres oubliées ou inédites des peintres de la famille Beaubrun' in Revue de l'art, 1969, 5, pp. 19-32, fig. 24.
G. Wildenstein, 'Les Beaubrun' in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1960, 56, pp. 261-274.

Production Note

Previously attributed to Nicolas and Pierre Mignard

Materials

Oil; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Dress; Pearls; Lady; Portrait; Coins

Categories

Paintings; Portraits

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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