Very beautiful portrait of the dauphin Louis-Joseph Xavier François *.
With his straw blond hair, his heart-shaped mouth and his blue eyes, the eldest son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette is represented in a bust, dressed in his “matelote” or “sailor-style” dress in white silk satin. .
It features the cross and the celestial blue cord of the Holy Spirit, a distinction that every son of France receives on the day of his baptism.
Oil on canvas in oval shape, wooden frame and gilded stucco from the Restoration period.
Signed lower right “Melle Leroulx Laville” for Marie Guillemine Benoist née Leroulx Laville. *
Perfect condition, original canvas, no accidents or repainting.
As indicated on the cartouche that accompanies the frame, our painting was offered by His Majesty King Charles X to Mme Veillet de Veaux, who was the wife of the mayor of Meaux, Augustin Veillet de Veaux (1775-1848).
Frame: Height: 63 cm; Width: 55.5 cm
Our opinion :
The work that we present is a very beautiful discovery which constitutes to this day the first known painting of one of the greatest female painters of the 18th century in France, Marie Guillemine Benoist.
The dolphin is shown only three or four years old, which corresponds to the years 1784/1785 when the young Leroulx Laville apprenticed in the studio of Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1781 to 1785).
We recognize the same iconography as on the double portraits painted in 1784 by Mme Lebrun and kept at Versailles.
The young Marie Guillemine, who was one of the only pupils of the grand master, probably painted this portrait from life, during the long posing sessions at Trianon organized by Queen Marie Antoinette during the summer of 1784.
Barely 16 years old, she gives us a youthful work already full of maturity and particularly promising.
Because of her voluntary withdrawal so as not to hamper her husband's political ascension, the body of works signed by her hand is extremely small, for paintings mostly kept in museums.
It is very likely that it was Mrs. Benoist herself who offered this canvas of her youth to King Charles X before she died in 1826.
Portrait of a prince, a youthful work of one of the greatest female painters of the 18th century and a royal gift are the glorious stages of this moving painting which in our eyes constitutes a museum piece of great importance.
* The Dauphin Louis Joseph Xavier François (1781-1789) was born in Versailles on October 22, 1781, he is the second child and first son of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. He is a child said to be intelligent by his contemporaries, but he has been very ill since he was very small (in 1784, he was caught with high fevers, he was then transported to La Muette where he recovered quickly). He was smallpox in 1785 at La Muette, the consequences of the inoculation were not serious, but his health remained mixed.
Around 1786, he began to have the first symptoms of tuberculosis (he was seized with feverish movements, the high fevers started again, he had difficulty walking and his back began to bend slightly) but his mother did not see the deterioration of his condition. health of her son, she already imagines giving him in marriage to her niece Marie-Amélie. He was taken to the Château de Meudon at the end of 1788, where it was hoped that the air he would breathe would benefit him, but his state of health only worsened. Between 1786-1788-89, he had to wear an iron corset, to straighten his backbone. The dolphin will die in Meudon, a few days before the revolution, on June 4, 1789.
He was a good and kind child, who liked to watch his brother in his cradle, and cherished his sister, even though educated to rule, he showed a certain taste for power and authority.
* Marie-Guillemine Benoist, née Marie-Guillemine de Laville-Leroux (1768-1826)
Born in Paris on December 18, 1768, Marie Guillemine Le Roulx de la Ville is the daughter of a royal official. From 1781 she studied with Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. In 1786, she followed, at the same time as her sister Marie-Élisabeth, the courses of Jacques-Louis David.
From 1784 she exhibited genre paintings and portraits at the Youth Exhibition. But she wants to go further and not limit herself to the “minor” genres that women are traditionally allowed to paint. Later she also exhibited historical paintings at the Paris Salons, from 1791 to 1812. In 1791, she exhibited for the first time at the salon a painting inspired by mythology: Psyche bidding farewell to her family.