Madame Sophie, born in 1734, was the sixth of eight daughters of Louis XV (1710–1774) and Marie Leszczynska (1703–1768), and one of seven who died unmarried. In 1763–64, Drouais painted eight portraits of members of the royal family that were commissioned by the four surviving sisters, the Mesdames Adélaïde, Victoire, Sophie, and Louise: there were three group portraits, two individual portraits of Madame Sophie, and one of each of the other princesses. Each single figure cost 800 livres, though Drouais hoped for 1,000, and included the sitter's hands; all five were the same size, "2 pieds 3 pouces sur un pied 10 pouces," or roughly 73 by 59.55 centimeters. One of the portraits of Madame Sophie must be a work at the Musée National du Château de Versailles (MV 3810), signed and dated 1763, in which she is seated in an armchair and facing to right, wearing an elaborately re-embroidered flowered damask dress and lace cuffs, and holding a musical score. The portrait of Madame Louise may be that belonging to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1359-5); it is signed and dated 1763 and measures 73.7 x 59.8 centimeters.
By contrast with the painting at Versailles, in the Museum's portrait Madame Sophie's hands are hidden in a fur muff. The canvas, dated 1762, is smaller, with a shape more nearly square. Her beautiful dress is similar in style but the striped and flowered fabric includes darker colors and has a slightly different design. The smooth, porcelain-like modeling of the sitter's expressionless face is quite typical.
[Katharine Baetjer 2011]