The Two Sisters, or Mesdemoiselles Chasseriau: Marie-Antoinette-Adele (1810-69) and Genevieve. The Two Sisters is an 1843 oil painting on canvas (180 × 135 cm) by the French romantic artist Théodore Chassériau. Completed when the artist was twenty-three years of age, it depicts Chassériau’s sisters Adèle and Aline (born Geneviève) Chassériau (1822–1871). It is housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. The work is a product of Chassériau’s early maturity, when he was eager to demonstrate his independence form his former master, J.A.D. Ingres, with whom he had had a falling-out in 1840. When the painting was exhibited in the Salon of 1843, the response of the critics and the public was mixed. One critic, Loius Peisse, wrote:
M. Chassériau wanted, perhaps unnecessarily, to undertake a difficult thing, to do a painting with two figures of women, both full length, of the same height, both in dresses of the same color and the same fabric, with the same shawl, posed in the same manner, and to sustain that gamble of sorts without using any artifice of light or effect, solely through the authority of style, form, and character. Did he succeed adequately? I do not think so. Nevertheless, he executed that tour de force with a resolution and skill that deserved to prevail.
Although the representation of the identically dressed sisters suggests twinship, Adèle (on the left) was thirty-three and Aline (on the right) was twenty-one when they posed for the portrait. By the time of Chassériau’s death in 1856, The Two Sisters was regarded as one of his most important works. It entered the collection of the Louvre in 1918.
For further reading on twins or doubles in the arts I recommend reading the article on the blog The Kissed Mouth.