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Saint Louis Art Museum

Largillière "Portrait of a Woman"

Largillière "Portrait of a Woman"

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From: Saint Louis Art Museum
Limited Edition: 2
Exhibition: Saint Louis Art Museum Permanent Collections
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 30" x 84" (76cm x 213cm)

Hanging Hardware Included



The detail of Nicolas de Largillière’s Portrait of a Woman features an unknown sitter who was most likely a member of France's prosperous bourgeoisie. It epitomizes Largillière’s skill at creating rich textures, chiaroscuro (the interplay of light and dark), and vibrant colors to capture the upper middle class milieu of the late 17th and early 18th century. Although just a detail of the full painting, the woman we see on the banner casts a confident and aristocratic gaze toward her audience. Her thick, shiny curls convey robust health while her illuminated face and neck have a delicate porcelain-like, translucent luster .

As with many of Largillière's portraits, the full work shows the subject surrounded by the trappings of her wealth: an ornate Chinese vase, lush red velvet drapes, a jewelry box out of which pearls flow, and a splendid gilded throne-like chair. She is dressed in a luxurious alabaster dress that is trimmed in delicate and intricate white lace. Both sides of the banner are identical.

Largillière painted this portrait around 1696 during the reign of Louis XIV, under which the arts flourished. Louis XIV, the Sun King, took personal interest in the arts and promoted them through his patronage of individual artists and French art institutions, such as the Académie Française. Not only did Largillière paint French nobles and bourgeoisie, he was sought out by other European royalty for his portraiture and painted King James II in 1686.


These banners were displayed in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri throughout 2008 and 2009 to promote the museum’s permanent collections.

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