GERARD François Pascal Simon, baron (Rome, 1770 ; Paris, 1837)
Portrait de jeune femme
toile (peinture à l’huile) H. 63 cm ; l. 52 cm
legs Marmottan Paul (testateur) (1932 acquis)
The identity of the sitter remains a mystery. It is certainly not Désirée Clary, as indicated in the title given to this work since the beginning of the 20th century. Certainly, like many other artists after 1798, François Gérard painted the portrait of Désirée Clary, wife of Marshal Bernadotte and queen of Sweden and Norway, but her features cannot be recognized in the model depicted here. The black velvet dress, adorned with a lace ruff, belted under the bosom by a golden cord, the red shawl worn over the shoulder and the hair à la Titus help date the work to the years 1800–1810. A painter to the imperial court, Gérard’s European reputation meant he was also solicited by figures from abroad who were eager to pose him. Critics praised the purity of his drawing, the liveliness and delicacy of his touch, his physiognomic accuracy and his subtle way of capturing his sitter’s character.