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Comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg (Marie-Louise-Charlotte-Gabrielle Thomas de Pange, 1816–1850)

Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)

Date:
1841
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
52 x 37 1/4 in. (132.1 x 94.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Wrightsman Fund, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.291
  • Gallery Label

    This likeness of the wife of the French ambassador to the Vatican expresses Chassériau’s subtle defiance of J. A. D. Ingres, his teacher. He subverted Ingres’s approach by casting a melancholic mood over the picture, by banishing bright colors, and by abandoning the master’s meticulous naturalism and smooth polish for a stylized and painterly depiction of sitter and setting. (The countess posed in the garden of the French embassy in Rome.) When the portrait was shown at the 1841 Salon, critics objected to its Romantic qualities—the expressive elongation of the head, the gazelle-like eyes, the pallor of the skin, and the delicacy of the hands.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated, lower left: T. Chassériau / Rome 1841

  • Provenance

    ?Armand-Charles-Septime de Fay, comte de La Tour-Maubourg, the husband of the sitter (commissioned from the artist for Fr 1,000 in 1841; presumably given to de Pange); his mother-in-law, Élisabeth-Victoire-Charlotte-Henriette Thomas de Pange (née Riquet de Caraman), marquise de Pange, later comtesse de Pange et d'Empire (from 1841); her granddaughter, Gabrielle-Marie-Charlotte de Fay de La Tour-Maubourg, later baroness de Mandell d'Écosse, called the marquise de La Tour-Maubourg; her son, Fernand-Joseph-Guillaume-Septime de Mandell d'Écosse, called the marquis de La Tour-Maubourg, château de Locquénolé, Kervignac, Morbihan, Brittany (after 1892–d. 1900); his widow, marquise de La Tour-Maubourg (née Anne de Perrien de Crenan), château de Locquénolé (from 1900); her daughter, Marguerite de Mandell d'Écosse de La Tour-Maubourg, later Mme Blanchet de La Sablière, Paris (until d. 1983; ?her estate); private collection (until 2002; sale, Sotheby's, Paris, June 27, 2002, no. 165, as "Portrait de la Comtesse de Latour-Maubourg," to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. March 15–?, 1841, no. 328 (as "Portrait de Mme la comtesse de L. T. M. . . .").

    Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Éxposition Chassériau, 1819–1856," 1933, no. 16 (as "Portrait de la comtesse de La Tour Maubourg," lent by Mme la comtesse de la Tour Maubourg).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic," October 22, 2002–January 5, 2003, unnum. addendum (as "Portrait of comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg, née Marie-Louise Gabrielle Thomas de Pange").

  • References

    Théodore Chassériau. Letter to Frédéric Chassériau. November 23, 1840 [published in Valbert Chevillard, "Un peintre romantique: Théodore Chassériau," Paris, 1893, pp. 47–48]
    , remarks that the sitter's recent enthusiasm for his portrait of Lacordaire led her husband to commission this portrait; notes that he moved into the Palazzo Colonna the day before and began work immediately, despite receiving only Fr 1000 rather than the 2500 requested; comments that he gets along well with the sitter, whom he calls "très douce et parfaitement élégant"; mentions that Ingres was envious when told of the commission.

    Théodore Chassériau. Letter to Oscar de Ranchicourt. December 4, 1840 [published in Léonce Bénédite, "Théodore Chassériau, sa vie et son oeuvre," Paris, 1931, vol. 1, p. 142], remarks that he is finishing this portrait and will leave for France immediately after the last brushstroke.

    Henri Lehmann. Letter to Marie d'Agoult. December 16, 1840 [published in Solange Joubert, "Une Correspondance romantique: Madame d'Agoult, Liszt, Henri Lehmann," Paris, 1947, p. 138]
    , admits that he also wished to paint a portrait of this sitter, but Chassériau had already begun.

    Anonymous. Letter to Frédéric Chassériau. ?March 15, 1841 [published in Léonce Bénédite, "Théodore Chassériau," Paris, 1931, vol. 1, p. 160], observes that in this picture "il y a là abus d'un système ultra-ingriste".

    Un Bourgeois. "Salon de 1841." Le Siècle (April 11, 1841), p. 2.

    Cantagrel. "Salon de 1841 (5e article)." La Phalange (May 30, 1841), p. 209.

    Marie d'Agoult. Letters to Henri Lehmann. March 1 and April 21, 1841 [published in Solange Joubert, "Une correspondance romantique," Paris, 1947, pp. 156, 164], comments that she does not generally care for Chassériau's portraits, except for those of Lacordaire and this one, which she finds superior; remarks upon the artist's lack of success at the Salon, especially with this picture.

    [Étienne-Jean] Delécluze. "Salon de 1841 (Cinquième et dernier article)." Journal des débats politiques et littéraires (May 29, 1841), p. 1, criticizes the three works exhibited by Chassériau at the Salon, including this one, for lacking "d'éclat de force, de vie dans leur ensemble".

    Théophile Gautier. "Salon de 1841." Revue de Paris 28 (April 1841), p. 165.

    Prosper Haussard. "Salon de 1841." Le Temps (May 21, 1841) [see Ref. Tinterow 2002].

    "Salon de 1841." Journal des artistes (May 16, 1841) [see Ref. Tinterow 2002].

    ?U. Ladet. "Salon de 1841." L'Artiste, 2nd ser., 7 (1841), p. 332.

    Henri Lehmann. Letter to Marie d'Agoult. January 16, 1841 [published in Solange Joubert, "Une correspondance romantique," Paris, 1947, pp. 144–45], harshly criticizes this picture and notes that Ingres refused to see it, releasing Chassériau from all obligations as his pupil.

    Mme Monnerot the Elder. Letter to Jules Monnerot. February 11, 1841 [excerpt published in English transl. in Ref. Tinterow 2002, p. 181], remarks that Chassériau has returned to Paris and that his two portraits, including this one, are very good and should be exhibited.

    Victor-Louis Mottez. Letter to [Hippolyte Fockedey]. March 16, 1841 [published in René Giard, "La peintre Victor Mottez d'après sa correspondence (1809–1897)," Lille, 1934, p. 151], comments that Chassériau has some good portraits in the Salon.

    Dominique-Louis-Féréol Papety. Letter to Auguste Ottin. May 15, 1841 [published in François-Xavier Amprimoz, "Lettres de Dominique Papety à ses parents et ses amis, Rome, 1837–1842," in "Archives de l'art français," 1986, vol. 28, p. 263], notes that the criticism of this picture has reached the ears of the sitter: "Mme de Maubourg (qui est enceinte) est furieuse contre Chassériau, il a perdu toute faveur... ".

    Louis Peisse. "Salon de 1841." Revue des deux mondes 26 (April 1, 1841), p. 43, calls Chassériau's style in this picture unpleasant, bizarre, and poorly suited to the portrait genre.

    Eugène Pelletan. "Salon de 1841 (Dernier article)." La Presse (June 3, 1841), p. 1, defends this portrait from Salon criticism, asserting that it represents an excess of talent.

    Fabien Pillet. "Salon de 1841." Le Moniteur universel (March 22, 1841), praises both of Chassériau's portraits at the Salon.

    Sessions of the Salon jury. February 26 and 28, 1841 [7th and 8th session of the Salon jury, Archives des Musées Nationaux, *KK. 35, *KK. 58, nos. 1912–13; published in Ref. Tinterow 2002, p. 181], states that the portrait of Lacordaire and this one were accepted as the 1912th and 1913th paintings, after a vote of 13 to 5.

    "De la peinture religieuse monumentale." Journal des artistes 2 (1845), pp. 17–19 [see Refs. Sandoz 1974, Tinterow 2007], describes this portrait as "teintes blanc et vert . . . fraîches et brillantes, sur un fond clair".

    Armand Baschet. "Les ateliers de Paris. - M. Chassériau, I." L'artiste: Beaux-arts et belles-lettres, 5e sér., 12 (June 1, 1854), p. 135.

    Paul Mantz. "Théodore Chassériau." L'Artiste 2 (October 19, 1856), p. 222, asserts that although its austerity and strange "silhouette rigide" frightened Salon visitors, this picture also exuded "une sorte d'attrait repoussant".

    Aglaus Bouvenne. "Théodore Chassériau." L'Artiste 2 (September 1887), p. 175.

    Valbert Chevillard. Un peintre romantique: Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 1893, pp. 51–52, 276, no. 60, notes that it was owned by the sitter's family in 1841.

    Auguste Dalligny. "Peintres français: Théodore Chassériau." Journal des arts (January 13, 1894) [see Ref. Sotheby's 2002].

    V. Chevillard. "Théodore Chassériau." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 3 (February 10, 1898), pp. 251–52.

    Jean Laran in Chassériau. Paris, 1911, p. 55.

    Jean Laran. "Un portrait inédit." Archives de l'art français 8 (1914), pp. 322–28, describes the events leading to the commission of this portrait; states that it was begun on November 22, 1840 and finished early in 1841; sees Chassériau's female figures as the direct predecessors of those by Puvis de Chavannes and Moreau.

    Paul Jamot. "Don (le) Chassériau au Musée du Louvre." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 37 (February 1920), pp. 68–69, calls it a charming female portrait.

    Lloyd Goodrich. "Theodore Chassériau." The Arts 14 (August 1928), pp. 68, 71, ill., remarks that it is "almost pure Ingres".

    Léonce Bénédite. Théodore Chassériau, sa vie et son oeuvre. Paris, 1931, vol. 1, pp. 20, 150, 154, 157–58, 160, ill.

    Jean-Louis Vaudoyer. "Chassériau's Portraits." Formes no. 25 (May 1932), ill. opp. p. 272.

    Jean Alazard. "Théodore Chassériau." Gazette des beaux-arts 9 (January 1933), pp. 49–51, ill., points out unusual elements such as the elongated oval of the face, the lassitude of the body and the hands, and the sitter's apparent reflection and melancholy.

    Marc Sandoz. "En l'honneur de Théodore Chassériau." Les Cahiers de l'oeust no. 2 (September 1956), pp. 19–20.

    Marc Sandoz. "Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856) et la peinture des Pays-Bas." Bulletin des Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique 17 (1968), p. 182, includes it in a list of portraits of young women painted outdoors during Chassériau's trip to Italy; considers it close to the style of Ingres.

    Marc Sandoz. Théodore Chassériau, 1819–1856. Paris, 1974, pp. 186–87, no. 87, pl. LXX, notes that it is still owned by the La Tour-Mauborg family, in Morbihan; lists preparatory studies in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

    Jean-François Méjanès. Ingres et sa postérité: Jusqu'à Matisse et à Picasso. Exh. cat., Musée Ingres. Montauban, 1980, p. 96, under no. 144, suggests that a drawing with the comtesse as the central figure is the first study for this painting (Louvre, no. 24917; see Ref. Prat 1988, no. 92).

    Marc Sandoz. "Portraits et visages dessinés par Théodore Chassériau." Cahiers Théodore Chassériau. 2, Paris, 1986, pp. 24–25, under no. 13, ill., calls it the first of the artist's great portraits and compares it to "Portrait of Madame Mottez" (1841; Fogg Museum, Cambridge).

    Louis-Antoine Prat. Inventaire général des dessins école française: Dessins de Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 1988, vol. 1, pp. 89–90, under nos. 87–92, ill., illustrates six sketches for this composition.

    Christine Peltre. Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 2001, pp. 87–89, fig. 98.

    Stéphane Guégan in Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 38–39, 116, 118 [French ed., "Chassériau, un autre romantisme," Paris, 2002, pp. 40, 116, 118].

    Vincent Pomarède in Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 63, 104, 179–82 [French ed., "Chassériau, un autre romantisme," Paris, 2002, pp. 63, 104, 180–82].

    Louis-Antoine Prat in Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 118–19, 122, 124 [French ed., "Chassériau, un autre romantisme," Paris, 2002, pp. 118, 122, 124], discusses the studies for this composition, noting that Chassériau originally considered inscribing the portrait in an oval; observes that the position of the arms is repeated, in reverse, in the portrait of the artist's sisters (1843; Louvre).

    Gary Tinterow in Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 20, 402–5, ill. (color) [not in French ed.], remarks that this picture subverts Ingres's formula for portraiture with its melancholy mood and "artful, highly aestheticized, almost anti-natural depiction of sitter and setting".

    Carol Vogel. "Inside Art: A Retrospective That's a First." New York Times (October 18, 2002), p. E32, ill.

    Louis-Antoine Prat in Maestà di Roma, da Napoleone all'unita d'Italia: D'Ingres à Degas, les artistes français à Rome. Exh. cat., Villa Medici, Rome. [Milan], 2003, pp. 116, 122, fig. 1.

    Gary Tinterow. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2002–2003." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Fall 2003), pp. 5, 34, ill. (color).

    Colta Ives in The Wrightsman Pictures. New York, 2005, p. 368.

    Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2004–2005." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 63 (Fall 2005), p. 27, suggests that Henri Lehmann's "Faustine Léo (1832–1865)" (MMA 2004.243) may be a response to this picture, which Lehmann had seen in Rome.

    Gary Tinterow in The Wrightsman Pictures. New York, 2005, pp. 355–60, no. 100, ill. (color).

    Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 64, 226, no. 60, ill. (color and black and white).



  • Notes

    There is a double-sided sheet of studies for this portrait in a sketchbook, as well as several other studies of related hands and vegetation (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

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