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Study for "Portrait of an Indian"

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

ca. 1807
Oil on canvas
16 x 12 7/8 in. (40.6 x 32.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Joanne Toor Cummings, by exchange, 1997
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    This highly finished oil sketch served as the modello for a portrait now in the Musée Girodet at Montargis. When that lifesize canvas was sold at the posthumous auction of Girodet’s studio, it was catalogued as Portrait of an Indian and dated 1807. The costume, however, is Ottoman, not Indian. Girodet was one of the most gifted painters to emerge from the studio of Jacques-Louis David. Returning to Paris in 1795 after his stay at the French Academy in Rome, Girodet developed a style marked by literary preciosity, imaginary pictorial effects, and exotic subjects and settings.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    the artist, Paris (until d.1824; posthumous inventory, 1825, no. 217; posthumous sale, Paris, April 11–25, 1825, no. 2, to Becquerel); Becquerel-De[s]préaux (from 1825); [Thierry Mercier-Hubert Duchemin-Frédérick Chanoit, Paris, until 1995]; private collection (from 1995); [Galerie Mercier & Duchemin, Paris, until 1997; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Galerie Mercier & Duchemin. "Tableaux et dessins des dix-huitième et dix-neuvième siècles," May 16–June 17, 1995, no. 7.

    Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Girodet: 1767–1824," September 22, 2005–January 2, 2006, no. 83 (as "Indian [sketch]").

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Girodet: 1767–1824," February 11–April 30, 2006, no. 83 (as "Indian [sketch]").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Girodet: 1767–1824," May 24–August 27, 2006, no. 83 (as "Indian [sketch]").

    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Girodet: 1767–1824," October 12, 2006–January 21, 2007, no. 83 (as "Indian [sketch]").

  • References

    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. lxvj.

    Tableaux et dessins des dix-huitième et dix-neuvième siècles. Exh. cat., Mercier-Duchemin-Chanoit, Paris. [Paris], 1995, p. 18, no. 7, ill. p. 19 and in color on cover, remarks that the measurements of our painting match those mentioned by Coupin [see Ref. 1829] and states that our painting represents a Persian.

    Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1997–1998." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 56 (Fall 1998), p. 40, ill. in color, comments that the richly-colored costume is Ottoman, not Indian.

    Sylvain Bellenger in Sylvain Bellenger. Girodet: 1767–1824. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2006, pp. 384, 387, no. 83, ill. (color), as "Indian (sketch)".

  • Notes

    This is the oil sketch for a much larger life-sized portrait in the Musée Girodet, Montargis. The latter painting, unpublished before it was acquired by the museum in 1973 from the artist's heirs, can be dated to 1807 thanks to a note in the catalogue of Girodet's posthumous sale. Our study must have immediately preceded Girodet's work on the larger canvas, which is considered by some scholars to be unfinished. The identity of the sitter is not known. The canvas at Montargis was probably destined for the Salon, but Girodet never submitted it.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History