François Hubert Drouais (French, Paris 1727–1775 Paris)
Oil on canvas
45 1/2 x 34 5/8 in. (115.6 x 87.9 cm)
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 615
The sitter is Marie Rinteau, who in 1748 had given birth to an illegitimate daughter, Marie Aurore, by the famous soldier and courtier Maurice de Saxe (1696–1750). Marie is remembered as the great-grandmother of the writer George Sand (1840–1876). Marie and her sister Geneviève enjoyed a brief moment of success in music and theatre and long careers as cultured courtesans, known as "les demoiselles de Verrières."
The sitter is Marie Rinteau, or Rainteau (1728/30–1775), who in 1748 had given birth to an illegitimate daughter, Marie Aurore, by the famous soldier and courtier Maurice de Saxe (1696–1750), Maréchal de France. Mother and daughter are remembered as the great-grandmother and grandmother of the writer George Sand (1840–1876). Marie and her younger sister Geneviève, who were of humble origins, enjoyed a brief moment of success in music and theatre and longer careers as cultured courtesans. In Paris and at Autueil they built private theatres, lived in luxury, and received important guests. Neither married and from the 1750s they were known as "les demoiselles de Verrières."
Charles Sterling, in 1949, discovered that Drouais had painted portraits of both Marie and Geneviève (whereabouts unknown) which were exhibited as Portrait of a Lady Finishing Her Toilet and Portrait of a Lady Playing the Harp at the 1761 Paris Salon. Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724–1780) sketched them, and identified them as the Verrières sisters in his copy of the exhibition catalogue. Sterling pointed out that originally their hair was dressed close to the head, and concluded that Drouais or another painter modified the portraits to show the towering coiffures that were in style about 1775. A miniature of Marie that descended to Madame Sand confirms his conclusions.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed and dated (left center): Drouais le fils / 1761
Sénateur Boittelle (by 1866–74; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 24–25, 1866, no. 47, as "Portrait d'une cantatrice"; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 2, 1874, no. 13, as "Portrait d'une cantatrice?"); G. de Salverte, Paris (until 1887; his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 5–6, 1887, no. 7, as "Portrait de jeune dame," to Glanday); Monsieur A. G . . . (until 1921; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 11, 1921, as "Portrait de femme," for Fr 100,000 to Demonde); [Wildenstein, New York, until 1927, as "Marquise de Villemonble"; sold for $150,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1927–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 48; 1943, no. 47)
Paris. Salon. 1761, no. 81 (as "Le Portrait d'une Demoiselle quittant sa Toilette").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 47.
Northampton, Mass. Smith College Museum of Art. "The Paris Salon of 1761," April 6–30, 1961, no catalogue?
C. Gabillot. "Les trois Drouais (3e article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 34 (November 1905), p. 396.
Émile Dacier. Catalogues de ventes et livrets de Salons illustrés par Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. part 6, Livret du Salon de 1761. Paris, 1911, p. 62, deciphers the inscriptions made by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin for nos. 80 and 81 in his copy of the 1761 Salon catalogue as "les demoiselles de Vérière"; reproduces the page.
Der Cicerone 20 (1928), p. 79, ill.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.
Esther Singleton. Old World Masters in New World Collections. New York, 1929, pp. 310–12, ill., as "La Marquise de Villemonble".
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 48, ill.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 47, ill.
Madeleine Charageat. "Les souvenirs de George Sand." Bulletin du Musée Carnavalet 7 (December 1954), pp. 9–10, 35–36 nn. 33, 35.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 145, 147–48, ill., notes that Saint-Aubin's sketches show the low coiffure of 1761, but in our picture and its pendant the hair is dressed very high; describes a miniature of Marie that shows the low coiffure, and concludes that our painting was altered by Drouais or another painter to accord with the change in fashion in the 1770s.
The portrait of Marie's sister Geneviève (location unknown) was exhibited at the Salon of 1761 as no. 80, "Le Portrait d'une Dame jouant de la Harpe," with the dimensions "3 pieds 6 pouces de haut sur 2 pieds 9 pouces de large."