A portrait by Nicolas de Largillierre joins the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille

Nicolas de Largilliere (1656-1746)
Portrait of Marguerite de Largilliere,
Artist’s Daughter
, 1726
Oil on canvas - 81.7 x 65.3 cm
Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille

21/3/10 – Acquisition – Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts – The painting acquired by the museum in Lille and which will hang in its rooms starting next May is an important work by Nicolas de Largillierre [1] (ill.). This portrait of the artist’s daughter, Marguerite, had remained in the family until recently. It came up for auction at Sotheby’s New York on 29 January 2009 with an estimate of $500,000/700,000 but went unsold ; the museum then bought it for 220,000€ of which 50,000 came from a patron, the company Groupama. Although it has never been restored, the canvas is in excellent condition.
The model, 25 years old, is wearing a crimson brocade and velvet dress. In 1726, the date of the painting, Marguerite married Jean-Baptiste Houzé de La Boullaye, Minister of War to Louis XV who was to die seven years later, leaving her a widow. The flowers in her hair and on her dress represent marriage (orange-tree blossoms) as well as the purity of feelings and sincere love (white and red carnations). There is another painting by Largillierre, its where abouts unknown, which is a partial replica of this work here, representing only the young woman’s bust [2].

The museum in Lille already owns another portrait by Largillierre representing his father-in-law, the painter Jean-Baptiste Forest who was thus Marguerite’s grand-father.

Didier Rykner, dimanche 21 mars 2010


[1] Traditionally, the last name is written with a grave accent and only one “r”, but Dominique Brême, a specialist of the artist, prefers to spell it without the accent and a double “r” based on documents of that time.

[2] Cf. Dominique Brême, Largillierre, 1656-1746, catalogue of the exhibition at the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 2003, repr. p. 49. This painting came up for auction at Tajan in Paris on 25 June 2002, lot 65.

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