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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense


Madame Jacques-Louis-Étienne Reizet (Colette-Désirée-Thérèse Godefroy, 1782–1850)

Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris)

Oil on canvas
23 3/4 x 19 1/2 in. (60.3 x 49.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gifts of Joanne Toor Cummings, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rodgers, Raymonde Paul, and Estate of Dorothy Lichtensteiger, by exchange, 1999
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This work, one of Girodet’s last, betrays the meticulous technique characteristic of the neoclassicism of his teacher, Jacques-Louis David, as well as the perfected forms of the Florentine Renaissance. Letters exchanged between Girodet and the sitter indicate that they knew each other well, and that every detail of the portrait was worked out beforehand. Madame Reizet’s husband was a prominent government official; her son, Marie-Frédéric de Reiset, was a curator at the Louvre who later became director of the French National Museums.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (upper right): G-T / 1823·

  • Provenance

    the sitter, Paris (1823–d. 1850); her son, Jacques Reiset (1850–d. 1869); his younger brother, Marie-Frédéric de Reiset, Paris (1869–d. 1891; inv., 1874, no. 54); the de Reiset family, Paris (1891–1998); [Didier Aaron, Paris, 1998–99; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. August 25–?, 1824, no. 776 (as "Portrait de Mme. R ***").

    London. Tate Britain. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," February 5–May 11, 2003, no. 102.

    Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," June 8–September 7, 2003, no. 102.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism," October 7, 2003–January 4, 2004, no. 102.

    Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Girodet: 1767–1824," September 22, 2005–January 2, 2006, no. 96.

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Girodet: 1767–1824," February 11–April 30, 2006, no. 96.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Girodet: 1767–1824," May 24–August 27, 2006, no. 96.

    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Girodet: 1767–1824," October 12, 2006–January 21, 2007, no. 96.

  • References

    Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson. Letter to Madame Reizet. [March 1819] [transcript in archive file; see Ref. Bellenger 2006, pp. 410, 413 n. 16], apologizes for not having begun this portrait because he is working on a history painting ["Pygmalion and Galatea"].

    Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson. Letters to Madame Reizet. January 13 and [February 1820] [transcripts in archive file; see Ref. Bellenger 2006, pp. 411–13 nn. 23, 27], discusses the details of a full-length portrait of the sitter, stating his preference that she wear a black velvet dress, and negotiates a price of Fr 4,000.

    Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson. Letter to Madame Reizet. 1823 [transcript in archive file; see Ref. Bellenger 2006, p. 411], invites her to see the portrait, now finished except for the drop earring.

    P[ierre]. A[lexandre]. [Coupin]. "Notice sur l'exposition des tableaux en 1824 (quatrième article)." Revue encyclopédique 24 (December 1824), p. 598, praises its delicate brushwork and technique.

    Étienne-Jean Delécluze. "Beaux-Arts. Exposition du Louvre 1824." Journal des débats politiques et littéraires (November 12, 1824), p. 3, compares it to the "Mona Lisa".

    [Marie] M[ély]. J[anin]. "Salon de 1824." La Quotidienne (December 1, 1824), p. 4.

    P[ierre]. A[lexandre]. Coupin. Oeuvres posthumes de Girodet-Trioson, peintre d'histoire; suivies de sa correspondance; précédées d'une notice historique, et mises en ordre. Paris, 1829, vol. 1, p. lxij, as "Madame de Reizet".

    Marquet de Vasselot. Histoire du portrait en France. Paris, 1880, p. 220.

    Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998–1999." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Fall 1999), p. 40, ill. (color).

    Aude Lamorelle. "Les Portraits féminins peints par Girodet." Master's thesis, Université de Paris X—Nanterre, 2002, vol. 2, p. 44, no. 19 [see Ref. Bellenger 2006].

    Sidonie Lemeux-Fraitot in Valérie Bajou and Sidonie Lemeux-Fraitot. Inventaires après décès de Gros et Girodet: Documents inédits. n.p., 2003, p. 305, under no. 169, notes that [Antoine César] Becquerel sold this portrait for Fr 1,000 [however this is probably a reference to the replica; see Ref. Bellenger 2006, p. 413 n. 25].

    Patrick Noon in Patrick Noon. Crossing the Channel: British and French Painting in the Age of Romanticism. Exh. cat., Tate Britain. London, 2003, p. 185, no. 102, ill. (color).

    Margaret A. Oppenheimer. The French Portrait: Revolution to Restoration. Exh. cat., Smith College Museum of Art. Northampton, Mass., 2005, p. 213 n. 3, erroneously refers to it as "Jacques-Louis-Étienne Reizet".

    Sylvain Bellenger in Sylvain Bellenger. Girodet: 1767–1824. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2006, pp. 408–12, 413 n. 2, no. 96, ill. (color) [French ed., 2005], recounts the commission of this portrait through the correspondence between the sitter and artist; notes that although first planned in 1819 as a full-length portrait, by the end of 1820, Girodet proposed using a completed half-length study to spare Mme Reizet from a number of sittings, and that the work was not even begun until sometime after July 1822; observes that the fur piece links this work to Italian Renaissance portraits, particularly Sebastiano del Piombo's "Portrait of a Woman" (Uffizi Gallery, Florence).

    François Borne et al. Salamander Fine Arts: Paintings and Watercolours, 14th–20th Century. Exh. cat., Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, New York. London, 2006, pp. 52, 54, reproduce and discuss the replica and the full-length drawing of 1819, which was the original conception for the painting.

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 8, 254–55, no. 6, ill. (color and black and white).

    Richard Dagorne. "Le 'Portrait de Madame Reiset:' un important portrait féminin par Girodet." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 60 (February 2010), p. 12, compares the MMA painting with the version painted in 1824, now in the Musée Girodet, Montargis (inv. 009.4.1), stating that the repetition presents a more delicate touch, notably in the fur, a sweeter facial expression, better-proportioned shoulders, a more harmonious garnet red in the coat, and greater definition in the blue-gray of the eyes.

  • Notes

    There is a replica of this portrait, formerly owned by the Reiset family (Musée Girodet, Montargis), and possibly executed for one of the sitter's children. A full-length preparatory drawing of 1819 is in a private collection (see Ref. Bellenger 2006, no. 97).

    Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse made a lithograph after this painting, dated 1826 [see archive file].

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History