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Oil painting - Portrait of Mlle Doré
  • Portrait of Mlle Doré
    Drouais, François-Hubert, born 1727 - died 1775
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Portrait of Mlle Doré

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (painted)

  • Date:

    before 1758 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Drouais, François-Hubert, born 1727 - died 1775 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    600-1882

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 2, The Wolfson Gallery, case WE

François Hubert Drouais (1727-1775) was born in Paris. He trained with his father, Hubert Drouais (1699-1767) and then with Donat Nonotte (1708-1785), Carle van Loo (1705-1765), Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700-1777) and François Boucher (1703-1770). He became a member of the Académie Royale in 1755 and achieved quickly a great success as a portrait painter, receiving prestigious commissions, especially from the court.

This painting depicts a young lady whose costume is datable ca. 1760. She is identified by an inscription on the parapet reading ‘Mlle Doré’, which could refer to either the future wife of the painter, Anne-Françoise Doré or her sister, Marie-Jeanne. This painting is a good example of Drouais’ production of portraits, a category in which he specialised with success.

Physical description

In an oval format, set against a neutral grey background, bust portrait of a young lady wearing a blue dress and a blue hat held by a large knot under her chin, holding a rose in her right hand and leaning against a parapet.

Place of Origin

Paris (painted)

Date

before 1758 (painted)

Artist/maker

Drouais, François-Hubert, born 1727 - died 1775 (painter)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'Melle Doré'
Inscribed on parapet

Dimensions

Height: 68.6 cm estimate, Width: 61 cm estimate, Height: 84.5 cm framed, Width: 75 cm framed, Depth: 10.4 cm framed

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882

Historical context note

The painting was formerly attributed to a certain Mlle Doré, identified as Marie-Jeanne Doré, who is said to have painted miniature portraits, and appears to be the sister-in-law of the French painter François-Hubert Drouais.

The stylistic characteristics and the two copies after this painting suggest however that the painting was executed by François-Hubert Drouais himself rather than his young sister-in-law. This attribution is supported by M. Alastair Laing (written communication, Jan 2008).

The two copies, one in the Government Art Collection, London, and another sold at Sotheby's London, 1st Nov. 2007, lot 193, are moreover both attributed to Drouais. The inscription on the parapet reading 'Mlle Doré' seems therefore to allude to the identity of the sitter rather than that of the artist.

The sitter could in fact be identified with either the wife of the artist before their marriage (hence the inscription 'Mlle' which stands in French for 'Miss') or her sister, who came to live with the family after the wedding.

It is most likely however that the V&A painting portrayed the wife of the artist as the sitter is very similar to a portrait of Madame Drouais, wife of the artist, dated ca. 1758 (Louvre, Paris). In the same guise as in our painting, she has some wild roses pressed against her heart and wears a similar blue dress with a large blue knot under her chin.
Carnation and wild roses were often used as a symbol of bethrotal and love. This attribute would therefore illustrate appropriately the bond between the painter and his wife.

Based on the style of the dress, similar to the one in the Louvre portrait, this painting can be reasonably dated c. 1760.

Drouais was a successful portrait painter and was entrusted with a series of royal commissions. This portrait is a fine example of his art, which combines mastery and freshness.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Portrait of Mademoiselle Doré', François-Hubert Drouais, before 1758

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

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 87, cat. no. 87
J. J. Foster, French art from Watteau to Prud'hon,i, 1905, pl, iii.
C. Gabillot in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, xxxiv, 1905, p. 392, n. 4.
B. Long, Catalogue of the Jones Collection,1923, p. 7, pl. 31.
C. M. Kauffmann in Apollo, xcv, 1972, p. 184, fig. 12.
Creer au feminin - Femmes artistes du siecle de Madame Vigee Le Brun Tokyo: Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2011.

Labels and date

Portrait of Mlle Doré
About 1760

This young sitter, probably the future wife of the painter, wears several items made from unpatterned silks. Her gown, its trimmings and the trimmings on her hat are of plain blue taffeta or satin, and her hat is covered in black silk. Skilled artisans and servants, as well as nobles and bourgeois, wore such fabrics, which were available in a great variety of colours.

France (Paris)
By François-Hubert Drouais
Oil on canvas
Bequeathed by John Jones
[09/12/2015]
The following is the label text from 1971 for Galleries 1-7 of the V&A:

"AN UNKNOWN GIRL
Atrributed to MARIE-JEANNE DORÉ (b. 1736)
Inscribed on parapet: Melle. Dore.

French School, about 1765. In an 18th century carved frame.

This painting has close affinity with the work of François-Hubert Drouais (1727-75) and it was formerly described as a portrait of Mademoiselle Doré by Drouais. However, there was a portrait painter who signed herself Mlle Dore in 1763 and 1765-about the time when this picture was painted-and it seems likely that, in this case also, Mademoiselle Doré was the painter rather than the sitter. She is probably to be indentified with Marie-Jeane Doré, Drouais' sister in law.

Jones Collection.
Museum No. 600-1882." []

Production Note

Formerly attributed to 'Madame Doré'

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Dress; Figure; Ribbons; Rose

Categories

Paintings; Portraits

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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