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The Duchess de Choiseul as Diana, c. 1704

Jean-Baptiste Oudry

French, 1686-1755
Oil on canvas
54-1/2 x 42-1/4 in. (138.4 x 107.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1965.1.047.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

When this painting was purchased by Duveens from Comtesse Jacques de Sieyas de Veynes in 1954, it was attributed to Nicolas de Largillière, Oudry’s teacher. Its composition is very similar to a smaller work at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University: the latter picture lacks the dog, and the sitter holds a bow rather than a sword. More importantly, the Fogg painting is attributed to Mignard, an unlikely possibility for the Simon painting.

Correspondence in the Duveen archives shows that Edward Fowles was particularly keen to discover the sitter’s identity, and outside consultants were hired in an effort to determine it. In the end, Fowles was convinced that it indeed depicted Marie Bouthillier de Chavigny, who as the second wife of César Auguste, Duc de Choiseul, took the title Duchesse de Choiseul in 1699. If this is the case, the painting would be a very early work by the young Parisian painter, whose father was also an artist.

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