Can't you just see this spry little French woman storming the Palace at Versailles along with the fish-women, demanding and taking the Palace and ultimately imprisoning French King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette? She's the perfect image of a 1700s French Revolutionary woman, and in this beautifully hand painted miniature she holds a small flower. We can only guess at the importance of this little tri-pedal blossom, and what its significance is to the painting, but it's definitely something that held value and meaning for her. One can speculate it's a flower from the rooms of Marie-Antoinette, perhaps, but surely a treasure or icon of something quite central to this woman's portrait. In the mid-late 1700s, having a painting in miniature done was something primarily only practiced by the wealthy. To find a portrait from this period which shows a much humbler 'common' femme or woman, as is the case here, tells us something about her importance on some other level, which makes me think she is a figure of import in the French Revolution. Since we can only speculate, lacking provenance and her identity and history, the story remains a bit of a mystery, though. She's holding her secret behind those big expressive eyes. But isn't she just fabulous!
Very good to excellent condition, hand painted on very thin thin natural wafer wafer, using goauche or watercolor, the painting is perfectly preserved under the original cover glass, as shown. The frame is similar to the Fusee watches of the era, with the elongated neck to the bale. We have tested it and it is solid 12k yellow gold. The backside is a locket into which we suspect an ornament of swirls of her hair would have originally been placed, but that has been removed over time and now we have just a 1900s bit of French woven fabric there. But no damage at all to painting, glass (slightly convex on each side) or frame other than a slight bend to the bale and a bit of the years showing by way of surface abrasions. An exceptionally appealing image, c. 1770s-1800.
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