Attributed to LOUIS-LÉOPOLD BOILLY (French 1761-1845)
    Portrait Of A Woman, 1801
    Oil on panel
    11-1/2 x 8-3/4 inches (29.2 x 22.2 cm)
    Signed and dated at lower right: Boilly An. 9

    Boilly was a successful painter both of moralizing, amorous and sentimental genre subjects and of portraits. He devoted himself to the former earlier in his career when he fell under the spell of Jean Honoré Fragonard and Jean-Baptiste Greuze, whose works combine a love of anecdote with delight in rendering the marvelous tactile qualities of textiles and other sensual textures. Since Boilly began his artistic career under the tutelage of Dominique Doncre in Arras-a specialist in trompe l'oeil painting-it seems he was somewhat predisposed to a predilection for careful rendering of texture, which held him in good stead as a portraitist later on. Boilly's focus on amorous genre scenes shifted after an artistic scandal erupted when he exhibited his Lovers and the Escaped Bird (now in the Louvre, Paris). Its erotic emphasis was deemed far too flagrant by the Comité du Salut Public in 1794 at the height of the Terror, and Boilly was condemned for painting subjects "d'une obscénité révoltante pour les moeurs républicaines." He appeased the "decency police" by quickly painting an intensely patriotic Triumph of Marat, even though he was, in truth, apolitical.

    After 1800, Boilly turned his artistic attention to smaller but more complex scenes of quickly observed urban views as well as portraits of the middle class, which is where he lavished his love of careful description. The present work is characteristic of Boilly's highly refined skills of observation. While this sitter is not ravishingly beautiful by most standards, she radiates a fascinating sense of personality and intelligence. Boilly's portraits of this type strongly betray the artist's deep admiration for Dutch 17th-century painting, of which he had a considerable personal collection. Taking cues from Dutch models, Boilly produced portraits with an understated sobriety which subtly focuses attention on the personality of the face. His use of color is also delicate and harmonious, and quite distinctive.

    Boilly signed and dated this work according to Napoleon's Republican calendar. The date "An. 9" he inscribed at lower right corresponds to the year 1801. The calendar ran for 13 years from 1892 to September 9, 1805 when it was abolished by decree.

    Condition Report*:

    slight bow to panel, surface cleaned, with scattered strenthening throughout face, the background and dress

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2007
    25th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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