The beautifully worn half-length portrait in rectangular form of a noble lady of high station, that of house Béon, painted in oils on canvas and later laid to board, and in a black painted period frame with gilded slip, the sitter wearing a lace bonnet and black laced dress, possibly in mourning, and holding a clasped book looking out amicably to the viewer, on a dark russet ground, and surviving from the first quarter of nineteenth century France.
The portrait remains in completely original attic find condition with no over-painting or attempted restoration and a good deal of character to the surface with flecked losses, and she has not been cleaned or varnished. Please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference. The frame is mid-19thC and was probably fitted when she was laid to board.
The wonderful paper inscription to the reverse tells us “petite vitesse monsieur le comte de beon en gare a birrfeld pres brugg argovie” which roughly translates to slow speed? Sir Count de Beon in the station at Birrfeld near Brugg.
The inscription states this is a gentleman so we believe this was probably part of a pair and the gentleman in question is elsewhere. The labels for Lucerne also suggest it got re-laid in Switzerland at some stage.
The Maison de Béon is a noble lineage of chivalrous origin, originating in the village of Béon, a former seigniorial stronghold in the Ossau valley, in Béarn. Many legends surround the origins of this Béarnaise house. They appeared mainly in the 18th century in the family and then among genealogists and reported the work of ancient historians whose traces are now more or less lost. Béarn is located north-west of the Pyrenees and is an old sovereign principality then an old French province following its annexation to the kingdom of France in 1620.
François-Frédéric de Béon (1754/179?) married Marie-Madeleine-Charlotte de Béon du Massés-Cazaux, with François-Antoine-Henri de Béon as a child who died in 1820, and this portrait was painted around that time.
A beautifully untouched attic find portrait with huge potential for further research, and in the meantime, just hugely decorative.