Comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg ~ 1841


1841 ~ portrait of Comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg (Marie-Louise-Charlotte-Gabrielle Thomas de Pange, 1816–1850) by Théodore Chassériau  ~  oil on canvas  ~  52 x 37 1/4 in. (132.1 x 94.6 cm)

” 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. ”

{ via MET Museum }

The countess is wearing a white dress with what seems like a matching lace shawl with three layers of ruffle which match the ones on her three quarter length sleeves. Hard to see if the lace shawl is attached to her dress, or is indeed a seperate shawl. But I think the latter, cause one end of the lace shawl hangs down in front of her bodice and the other end seems sort of tucked in at the rounded neckline of the bodice which seems to be vee shaped at the waist, although hard to see clearly. She is wearing a gold chain, which seems like a chatelaine. She is wearing a wedding ring and two gold bracelets, one with precious blue stones. She also wears a thin necklace, but it is hidden inside her bodice or underneath the shawl. Her hair is parted in the center, flat against the head exposing a bit of her ears, and probably tied in a bun at the back of her head. Her hands are folded in front of her. I find it an awkward painting. Having lived in Rome for several years I do not recognize the ‘feeling of Rome’ in this painting. The light and colors are too ‘cold’ and distant. And the foliage of the garden look like somewhere in the tropics where it is damp, as if there are exotic animals looming in the forest behind her. But it might just be my imagination run wild. What disturbs me most though is the sadness of the woman. Somehow she seems so sad, with drooping shoulders as if she is carrying a heavy weight. As if she is not free. I do not find her at all graceful or elegant, despite the dress. But rather phlegmatic, like a weeping willow, and with strange proportion in the arms and hands that seem too big for her face which is also distorted in it’s proportions. I do like her bracelet, and how the blue of the stones matches the sky.

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