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European Art before 1900

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Portrait of a Lady

circle of Jacques-Louis David, French, (August 30, 1748–December 29, 1825)
Marie-Guillemine Benoist (AKA Marie-Guillemine de Laville-Leroux), French, (December 18, 1768–October 8, 1826)

Creation date: ca. 1799
Creation place: France

Other Information

Type: Oil Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Anne R. and Amy Putnam
Accession Number: 1946.5
Dimensions: 39 1/2 in. x 32 1/8 in. (100.33 cm x 81.6 cm)
Currently on view


Mount-Stephen, London, England ( - ca. 1939)

Anne R. and Amy Putnam, San Diego, California ( - February 8, 1946)

Paul Drey, New York, New York (ca. 1939 - ca. 1942)

Jacob M. Heimann, New York, New York (ca. 1942 - 1946)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (February 8, 1946 - )

Label Copy

This portrait was once attributed to Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), and while it clearly shows his influence, as well as that of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755–1842), the artist responsible for it has long remained a mystery. The painting has recently, however, been attributed to Benoist, an artist little known today but one who achieved some fame in Napoleonic France. She studied with both David and Vigée-Lebrun and was one of a number of prominent women artists working in Paris in the late 18th century. In 1791, the Paris Salon began to allow women artists to show their work. Benoist was a frequent exhibitor thereafter, and she was eventually awarded a studio and lodgings in the Louvre for herself and her family. This portrait may be the “woman wrapped in a shawl, looking off into the distance” that she showed in the Salon of 1799. It is representative of the clean lines and simple compositions favored by portraitists working in the style of David. The sitter wears the classically inspired dress fashionable in post-Revolutionary France.
Last Updated: 12/28/2020


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Permanent Collection exhibit San Diego Museum of Art , 00/00/00 - 5/19/1981

Paintings of Women from the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Century Art Gallery of Toronto , 10/14/1938 - 11/14/1938

David and Ingres: Paintings and Drawings M. Knoedler & Company , 1/8/1940 - 1/27/1940

French Painting, Classic to Romantic: Exhibition of the Pendulum Swing from , 1/25/1942 - 2/22/1942

Vanity Fair: An Exhibition of Styles in Women's Headdress and Adornment through The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor , 6/16/1942 - 7/16/1942

Artists in Arcadia: The International Inspiration of Italy 1760-1915 , 1/12/1984 - 2/26/1984

The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789–1815 The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 12/13/1989 - 4/15/1990

Painting in France, 1803-2003 , 11/20/2003 - 4/22/2004

The French Portrait: Revolution to Restoration Smith College Museum of Art , 9/30/2005 - 12/11/2005

Art of Portraits The San Diego Museum of Art , 1/27/2016 - 00/00/00


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Julia Gethman Andrews (DUP). A Catalogue of European Paintings, 1300-1870 San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 1947
Page Number: 140, 141, 142, Figure Number: 141

Robert C. Lamm. The Humanities in Western Culture: Brown & Benchmark Publishers. Madison, Wisconsin, 1996
Page Number: 208, 209, Figure Number: 21.36

The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego Catalogue: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 1960
Page Number: 45-46, 47, Figure Number: 47

Dr. Alice Mackrell. An Illustrated History of Fashion: B.T. Batsford Ltd. London, England, 1997
Page Number: 97, Figure Number: 97

Vanity Fair: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. San Francisco, California, 1942
Page Number: 15 no. 30, Figure Number: 30

Philippe Séguy. The Age of Napoleon: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, New York, 1989
Page Number: 60, 257, Figure Number: 40

David and Ingres: M. Knoedler and Company. New York, New York, 1940
Page Number: Cat. no. 9

James W. Lane. Art News Art News, Inc.. New York, New York, January 6, 1940
Page Number: 7

Richard Foster Howard. French Painting, Classic to Romantic: Dallas Museum of Art. Dallas, Texas, 1942
Page Number: 10, 11, Figure Number: 11

Paintings of Women, Art Gallery of Toronto. Toronto, Ontario, 1938

Dr. Alice Mackrell. Art and Fashion: B T Batsford. London, England, 2005
Page Number: 40, Figure Number: 40

Mr. Charles Z. Offin, ed. Pictures on Exhibit Pictures Publishing Co.. New York, New York, May 1946
Page Number: 32, 39, Figure Number: 32

Dr. Margaret A. Oppenheimer. The French Portrait: Smith College Museum of Art. Northampton, Massachusetts, 2005
Page Number: 30, 31, 32, 203 notes 1-7, Figure Number: 2

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