Adèle ROMANY (1769 – 1846), Portrait of a Young Piano Player Holding a Music Score (Miss Thevenet de Montgarrel future wife of Gillet Ducoudray), oil on canvas, 38,77 x 31,49 in.
France, Property from a French Private Collection. Acquired by the family of the model in 1802 ; thence by descent until 2020.
Most probably Paris, Salon de peinture et de sculpture, 1802, n°255.
This charming portrait of Miss Thevenet de Montgarrel, by Adèle Romany, dated from 1802, participates to the rediscovery of the entire career of this important artist honored in her time and remained still relatively unknown to the general public in our days.
Adèle was an illegitimate child named Marie-Jeanne Mercier of a noble man Marquis de Romance, former captain of the guards. Her birth was legitimized by letter from the King on March 18, 1778. The child was then 9 years old. Little information has come of her artistic apprenticeship. In the booklets of the Salon de peinture et de sculpture, where she exhibited during forty years, she stated that she trained in the studio for female artists directed by the wife of the well-known painter, Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1754-1829). Adèle Romany belonged to a generation of women artists seeking professional careers in the fine arts. The French Revolution enabled them the access of the artistic venue of the Paris Salon, formerly regulated by the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture restricted to men, which provided the women artists with new opportunities
From the beginning of her career, Marie-Jeanne changed her first name to Adèle and signed her paintings with several variations consisting of her maiden and married names. The painters of King Louis XVI, François Casanova and Jean-Charles-Nicaise Perrin, were the witnesses of her wedding, in 1790, with the miniaturist François-Antoine Romany, whom she divorced in 1793, the same year she exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon. The Salon booklets list her multiple surnames: "la Citoyenne Adèle dit Romany," "Adèle Romany née Romance," "Mme Adèle de Romance," "Adèle Romance dit Romany," "Mme Adèle Romany Deromance," and even "Mme Romany-de-Romance.”
The painting represents a young lady under the French Consulate dressed in a gown deriving from antique costume, a fashion that would prevail under the Empire. Sitting in front of her piano forte, she wears a high-waist dresse of vaporous orange and white fabrics, belted by a silk ribbon. Her curly hair is pulled in a bun held in place with a comb. A carnelian or coral jewelry set - similar to that kept at the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts - adds to the value of her clothing, a sign of social distinction. The beauty of the model increases the sensuality of her silhouette free of her movements.
Miss Thevenet of Montgarrel is, without a doubt, an amateur musician, surrounded by music scores, seated in front of her piano forte made by Sébastien Érard. On the pulpit stands Antonio Sacchini's three-act lyric tragedy Oedipus at the Column. On the left is the score of L’Ariodant, a
drama in three parts and in prose by François- Benoît Hoffman, with music by Etienne Nicolas Méhul. The young lady points to L'Amour filial, an opera in one act, by Charles-Albert Demoustier with music by Pierre Gavaux. The 3rd verse can easily read. It most likely suggests a tribute to her father, possible patron of the portrait:
« Moi, chaque matin, je reçois
Le premier baiser de mon père ».
The model’s identity is confirmed by the provenance of the painting which remained in the same family since its creation in 1802. The young musician is Alexandrine-Florence-Virginie- Casimire Thevenet de Montgarrel (? - 1827). Her parents are Joseph Thevenet, senior employee at the royal and imperial lottery of France and Thérèse Félicité Ledoux. On June 22, 1805, at Notre- Dame de Lorette church, she married Amédée-Madeleine-Charles Gillet Ducoudray (1778-1829), private secretary and future cabinet advisor of Louis Bonaparte king of Holland. They had five children: Louis Eugène Napoléon born in 1806, Alexandre Eugène Gillet Ducoudray born in 1808, Euphrosine Virginie Gillet Ducoudray born in Utrecht on March 27, 1810, (ancestress of the former owners), Alexandrine Laeticia Gillet Ducoudray born in 1812 and Alexandre Joseph Amédée born in 1816.