Hélène Lambert de Thorigny, Nicolas de Largillière, Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay

Nicolas de Largillière (French, 1656–1746) Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (French, 1653– 1715) Hélène Lambert de Thorigny, c. 1696–1700 Oil on canvas Purchase, 1969 (3577.1) Largillière made his reputation as a painter of portraits of members of the wealthy middle classes, such as Madame Lambert de Thorigny, the wife of a successful financier from Normandy. From the swirling garland of flowers meticulously painted by Belin (who specialized in floral subjects) to the sitter’s twisting form and tightly curled coiffure, the composition is thoroughly in the Rococo style. The African servant, however, is an early 17th-century compositional device often used in Grand Manner portraiture. Made at a transitional moment between the Baroque and the Rococo, this work attests to Largillière’s duel interest in art of the past and styles of the present.
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