Presumed portrait of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth.
Oil on canvas in oval format, finely carved gilt wood frame decorated with laurel leaves. Dimensions with frame: h. 95 cm, l. 114 cm
Very good condition.
17th century French School, attributed to Henri Gascard circa 1670.
The young woman is portrayed seated in the heart of a park. She is dressed in a white blouse adorned with lace, a white satin skirt embroidered with gold with floral motifs held at her waist by an ocher cloth belt, and a large blue scarf which envelops her slender figure, held at the waist. shoulder by fine gold chains.
She looks at the viewer with her wide eyes with slightly lowered lids, which gives her a languid look. Her mass of curly brown hair is carelessly tied at the back with a string of pearls and a moiré silk scarf.
She exposes her bare ankle, her foot shod in a spartan sandal with white silk laces reaching up to the calf.
Far from the ceremonial portrait with heavy draperies, the staging in a natural environment: a wooded park with some architectural elements, makes this representation much more intimate, even scandalous, because the young woman, lightly dressed in negligee, reveals her ankle , at the time when women although allowed to show off their breasts, could not show their feet and ankles with a much more important erotic sense.
The ample fabrics, ready to slide away and reveal the charms of the young woman, its natural grace combined with the spontaneity of the pose and the apparent simplicity, brings a freshness to the portrait.
The painter sumptuously arranges the fabrics around the young woman, creating numerous folds and reflections, gives us here an intimate and seductive version of the mistress of the King of England and the secret agent and "cousin" of King Louis XIV.
Louise Renée de Penancoët de Keroualle (1649-1734), Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny, originally from Brittany, was the mistress of the King of England Charles II for fifteen years, but also the secret agent of the King of France, Louis XIV.
Henri Gascar (1635, Paris - 1701, Rome) (also Gascard or Gascars) was a portrait painter of French nationality, who notably enjoyed artistic success in England during the reign of Charles II. Before returning to Paris, he painted at the court many influential women, in particular several mistresses of the king. He then moved to Rome, where he died in 1701. Gascar arrived in England around 1674, probably at the request of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, Charles II's favorite mistress. The patronage of the Duchess of Portsmouth assured Gascar rapid success in England. His flamboyant style, contrasting with the firm English approach, seemed to correspond to the frivolity of the time, and he painted many ladies of the court of Charles II. On his return to Paris, Gascar was elected member of the Royal Academy on October 26, 1680. He then went to Rome where he enjoyed a great reputation and died there on January 1, 1701, at the age of 66.