A Late 18thC French School Oil on Canvas Portrait of a Lady c.1780-90

Origin: French
Period: Louis XVI
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1780-90
Height: 23.25”
Width: 19”

The beautiful half-length portrait in rectangular form of a French lady, painted in oils on canvas and unframed, wearing a beautiful lace and flowered headdress, pouffed lace neckdress, to a stole laden satin dress, her soft face looking out to the viewer with beautifully rendered blue eyes, her curly locked hair billowing from beneath the lace, the work unframed and surviving from the last quarter of eighteenth century France.

She remains in completely original condition with no over-painting and a good deal of craquelure to the surface with very small flecked losses and four patch repairs which are visible verso. The paint surface has taken on a wonderful patina to it and there has been no attempt to restore the picture though she may have been cleaned at some stage in the last decade with a light varnish, with one side of the stretcher slightly bowed. Please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference.

The sitter is bedecked in the latest fashion, and this portrait would have shown her in her best light for all to see her splendour. Fashion and haute couture was a flourishing business in the mid and late 18th century, as the aristocrats copied the styles of clothing worn by the Queen and her court, and the wives of Paris bankers and wealthy merchants copied the styles worn by the aristocrats. The fashion industry was formally born in 1776, when the guild of fashion merchants (marchandes de modes), along with plume merchants and florists, was officially separated from the mercers, those who sold ordinary clothing. By 1779, two hundred different models of hats were being sold in Paris, at prices ranging from ten to one hundred pounds, along with every other possible fashion item.

A lady champion of haute couture indeed.