Oil on canvas, dimensions: h. 90 cm, l. 72 cm
An original giltwood and carved frame, framed : h. 112 cm, l. 95 cm
Signed H. Millot for Henri MILLOT (active between 1699 and 1756) and dated 1700.
Our portrait is signed by a brilliant pupil of Nicolas de Largilliere.
A very young lady is portrayed, life size, seated on a blue velvet cushion with ornaments and gold thread pompom.
Dressed in a burgundy velvet dress decorated with lace, and an apron, she wears her hair a la fontange, her hair powdered, curly, raised, embellished by several blue silk bows.
Looking at the viewer, carrying her head high, she raises her right hand with a perched parrot as she rests her left hand on her spaniel before stopping her momentum. The little dog, staring at the parrot, is about to attack the bird.
The presence of an animal and a bird has been characteristic of children's portraits since the 16th century. The idea is always the same: the animal tries to catch the harmless bird, and the child comes in between. This helps to highlight the kindness of the child and his sense of responsibility.
The very young girl, dressed and hairstyle like a great lady, is also the symbol of this great century society, where the child from an early age plays a role of representation, and is perceived as an adult in miniature. .
Without any indication of the identity of the model, we can assume that she is a first-class nobility girl. Unlike the Northern countries, where portraits of children were very numerous during 17th century, in France under Louis XIV, only children from higly important families were entitled to their effigy.
Nicolas de Largilliere, working for a clientele consisting mainly of nobles, is one of the rare artists to paint children, other than members of the royal family.
The execution date indicates the period during which Henri Millot continued to work in Nicolas de Largilliere's studio. The signature obviously confirms an independent work of the artist, even if the entire staging suggests a strong influence of Nicolas de Largillière.
By its composition it is very reminiscent of the family portrait of the Marquise de Noailles, currently held at the Château de Parentignat.
Our portrait seduces with its exceptional freshness of colors, associated with a vigorous brush that animates the composition of the folds and drapes, creating numerous white ridges on the velvet. The young girl with her finery and her little companions is a touching testimony to childhood under Louis XIV.
Henri Millot was able to capture with so much bravery the subtle surface textures of these clothes. Burgundy velvet is one of his favorite colors that can be found on many of his works. This purplish color goes wonderfully with the blue of the ribbon and the embroidered cushion. This extremely intense chromatic range contrasts with the sober background composed of an architectural wall and large yellow drapery.
Henri Millot is a French painter born in Paris and died in Paris in 1756. He worked mainly in Paris and in close collaboration with Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746), he was his pupil before 1699, integrating the workshop in the years 1690, he adopted the full range of effects and techniques of his master.
He was a close friend of Marie-Claire Hermant, first cousin of Largillière and witnessed her marriage to Georges Roettiers on May 18, 1711.
He worked in Munich from 1721 to 1724, during which time he painted the portrait of Duke Gustave Adolphe des Deux Ponts (1722, Schleissheim Museum). In 1730, he worked in Strasbourg, but returned to Paris for good at the end of his life, where he exhibited 2 portraits at the Académie de Saint Luc in 1756.
His works in museums:
Portrait of Jean de La Fontaine (1699), Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki
Portrait of Duke Gustave-Adolphe des Deux-Ponts (1722), Schleissheim Palace
Portrait of a Woman Holding a Mask (circa 1728-1730), Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Portrait of the Chevalier de Larralde d'Urtubie (1734), Château d'Urtubie