A pastel portrait of the Comtesse d’Artois , by Joseph Boze, acquired by Versailles


18/5/11 - Acquisition - Versailles, Musée National du Château – On 4th May, Versailles preempted a painting by François-Hubert Drouais (see news item of 6/5/11) at Drouot. A few weeks earlier, at Sotheby’s London, the national museum had acquired another portrait, in pastel this time, representing the Comtesse d’Artois, the wife of the future Charles X (ill. 1), for 37,250£ (including charges).


1. Joseph Boze (1745-1826)
Portrait de la Comtesse d’Artois, 1785 (?)
Pastel - D. environ 58 cm
Versailles, Musée national du Château
Photo : Sotheby’s

2. Joseph Boze (1745-1826)
Portrait de la Comtesse d’Artois, 1785
Huile sur toile - 86 x 66,5 cm
Suède, collection particulière
Photo : D. R.


The exhibition Joseph Boze portraitiste de l’Empire à la Restauration, organized at the Musée Ziem in Martigues in 2004/2005, presented an oil portrait of the same model (ill. 2) which was practically identical to this one. Signed and dated 1785, it is in a Swedish private collection. The catalogue entry [1] explains that Boze produced three paintings [2] and that the original pastel probably did not survive the looting during the Revolution.

Juliette Trey, curator à Versailles told us that « the pastel was commissioned by the Comtesse d’Artois to Boze in april 1785 and was payed 1.200 livres in february 1787. Two replicas were commissioned for women of the princesse’s entourage but they were oil paintings, not pastel paintings. One of them is in Sweden (ill. 2), the other is not located. Therefore, the work of art bought by Versailles seems to be the original work of Boze which was thought to be lost during the Révolution. »

Marie-Thérèse de Savoie, the daughter of the Duke of Savoie, Victor-Amédée III, had married the Comte d’Artois in 1773, the year before Louis XVI became king. According to the Count Florimond de Mercy-Argenteau [3], she had “a rather white complexion, a rather thin face, a very long nose which ended unpleasantly, poor looking eyes, a big mouth, all forming an uneven countenance, without any charm and most common”. A very unflattering description but faithfully reproduced in this work by Joseph Boze.


Didier Rykner, mercredi 25 mai 2011


Notes

[1] Gérard Fabre, Joseph Boze. Portraitiste de l’Ancien Régime et de la Restauration, Editions Somogy, 2004, p. 100-101, n° 23.

[2] The text uses the term « copy » which is not quite exact as these are in fact replicas produced by the artist himself who was careful to sign them.

[3] Quoted by Gérard Fabre in the catalogue for the Joseph Boze exhibition.



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