Rosalie Duplant, a famous Paris opera singer, began her career in 1763, retiring from the stage around twenty years later, prior to the date this portrait was made. She particularly excelled in the opera Atys, composed by Niccolò Piccinni in 1780, which is evoked in the open score on the music stand of the pianoforte. It is even possible to see the inscription ‘Merken Parisiis fecit 1785’, an allusion to the instrument manufacturer Johann Kilian Merken.
The painting reveals the preference at the time for classical motifs, a direct consequence of the mid-eighteenth-century archaeological excavations in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The back of the chair is thus decorated with a frieze, à l’étrusque, formed by small aligned figures painted on wood. This practice, which was already common to the Louis XVI style, earned widespread popularity as a characteristic feature of the Directoire style.
Vincent’s role in the reform of artistic styles and for his early involvement in the neoclassical movement, which pre-dated that of his great rival David. The linear and ordered composition, the softness of the colours, the enhancement of the drawing and the preference for symmetry reveal some of the essential principles of this new concept.
Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from Wildenstein, Paris, June 1921.
H. 115 cm; W. 87.5 cm
Luísa Sampaio, Painting in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon/Milan: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum/Skira, 2009, pp. 110–11, cat. 45.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2011, p. 171, cat. 150.
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