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.
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Title:Marie Françoise de La Cropte de St. Abre, Marquise d'Argence (born 1714)
Artist:Jean Marc Nattier (French, Paris 1685–1766 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:32 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (82.6 x 64.8 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Jessie Woolworth Donahue, 1958
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). She was born at Surin, Vienne, on January 16, 1714. 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.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 370, 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.
Neil Jeffares. Minutiae at the Met. March 29, 2019, unpaginated [https://neiljeffares.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/minutiae-at-the-met/], has established the sitter's date and place of birth: according to the parish register at Surin, Vienne, she was born on January 16, 1714, and baptized on January 19; observes that her husband visited Ferney in 1760, but that the referenced letter was never sent.
Katharine Baetjer. French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century through the Revolution. New York, 2019, pp. 82–84, no. 16, ill. (color).
The stretcher is inscribed in ink: Marie Françoise / de LaCropte / de St. Abre, / Marquise d'Argence. / 1744 peint par Nattier.
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