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Portrait of Madame de Cromot de Fougy, 1786

Antoine Vestier

French, 1740-1824
Oil on canvas, oval
38 x 29-3/4 in. (96.5 x 75.6 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1983.16.P

On view

The sitter in this engaging portrait has recently been reidentified as the youthful and recently wed Madame de Cromot de Fougy (born Mlle Guillaudieu du Plessis). Her husband, Anne-David Cromot de Fougy, held the appointment of financial minister to the Count de Provence, one of the hereditary titles of the French monarchy. Vestier’s portrait was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1787, alongside a sculpted plaster bust by Louis-Simon Boizot of the same sitter “in the guise of Hymen.” In the Mercure de France review of the Salon from September of that year, his painting is described as “…charming, full of grace and friendliness.” Appearing happy and at ease, Madame de Cromot is smartly outfitted, from the crown of roses that sits atop her coiffed and powdered hair to her silken skirt, which Vestier captured using a refined technique of glazes. The green and gold embroidered sash tied high on her waist, along with the transparent muslin bodice, are likely meant to evoke the drapery style of classical Greek sculpture. The pushed-up sleeves of her blouson communicate a fresh note of informality.

Vestier was a successful society portraitist and his eighteenth-century patrons were eager to avail themselves of this luxury. Madame Cromot’s portrait gives vivid expression to the intimacy and sophistication of Parisian society at this moment.

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