The marquise's name and the date are inscribed on the stretcher. In 1744, the year she sat for Nattier, she was married in Paris to François Achard Joumard Tison d'Argence (1719–1781), who descended from several families of great antiquity in Angoulême and Périgueux. In this formal, frontal portrait the young sitter wears a pointed bodice trimmed with lace and pearls. An extravagant length of taffeta-like fabric is knotted at her breast. The trees, some with leafless branches, are unusual for a portrait in this relatively small format.
The sitter, named in an inscription on the reverse, is Marie Françoise de La Cropte de St. Abre, marquise d'Argence. This lady was the distant cousin of the archbishop, theologian, and poet François Fénelon (1651–1715). On February 17, 1744, the year she sat for Nattier, she was married in Paris to François Achard Joumard Tison d'Argence (1719–1793) and the couple had three children in the immediately succeeding years. The marquis d'Argence was descended from several families of great antiquity established principally in Angoulême and Périgueux. After a distinguished career in the military, he was wounded at the battle of Dettingen in 1743 and retired to Dirac, where later he became a correspondent of the philosopher Voltaire (1694–1778).
This straightforward half-length shows the young marquise in a ruffled chemise under a white dress with a pale gray pointed bodice trimmed with lace and pearls. An extravagant length of taffeta-like fabric is knotted at her breast. The trees, some with leafless branches, are unusual for a portrait in this format.
[Katharine Baetjer 2013]
by descent to Alfred Achard Joumard Tison, marquis d'Argence, Bailleau-l'Évêque, Sarthe, later château de Touvoie, Savigné-l'Évêque, Sarthe (by 1869–d. 1893); Hippolyte Achard Joumard Tison, marquis d'Argence (1893–d. 1905); Frédéric Achard Joumard Tison, marquis d'Argence (1905–d. 1922); [Wildenstein, Paris, London, and New York, 1930–ca. 1938; sold to Donahue]; Jessie Woolworth (Mrs. James P.) Donahue, New York (ca. 1938–58)
Chartres. Société Archéologique d'Eure-et-Loir. "Exposition Départementale," 1869, no. 63 (as "Françoise de Saint-Abre, marquise d'Argence, 1744," lent by le marquis d'Argence, Bailleau-l'Évêque).
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "43 Portraits," January 26–February 10, 1937, no. 31 (lent by Wildenstein and Co., New York).
G. S. Whittet. "A Gallery of Art Dealers: 4. Wildenstein." Studio 142, no. 700 (July 1951), p. 19, ill.
Xavier Salmon. Jean-Marc Nattier, 1685–1766. Exh. cat., Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon. Paris, 1999, p. 262, fig. 4, compares it to the presumed portrait of Marie-Anne Camasse, no. 74 in the exhibition, noting that between 1736 and 1758 Nattier produced numerous examples of this popular portrait type: half-length, with an embellished v-shaped bodice.
Old Master Paintings. Christie's, New York. June 6, 2012, p. 64, under no. 62.
The stretcher is inscribed in ink: Marie Françoise / de LaCropte / de St. Abre, / Marquise d'Argence. / 1744 peint par Nattier.
Artist: Jean Marc Nattier (French, Paris 1685–1766 Paris)Date: ca. 1730Medium: Black chalk, heightened with white, on brown paper; verso: faint white chalk sketch of a male figureAccession: 1987.197.1On view in:Not on view