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- Titles Madame du Barry Playing the Guitar (Former title)
- Artist François-Hubert Drouais, French, 1727 - 1775
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 28 1/2 x 23 3/4 in. (72.4 x 60.3 cm) frame: 35 1/4 × 30 × 3 5/8 in. (89.5 × 76.2 × 9.2 cm)
- Credit Line Eugenia Woodward Hitt Collection, 1991.252
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Provenance Possibly collection of Marie Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, Paris (1699-1777) [see note 1]. William, Earl of Lonsdale (1787-1872); auctioned at his sale Beautiful Pictures... Property of Earl of Lonsdale, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, June 18, 1887, lot 854 [see note 2]; purchased by “Colnaghi,” probably dealer Martin Colnaghi (1821-1908) [see note 3]. Dowager Viscountess Harcourt, née Mary Ethel Burns (1873-1961), Nuneham Courtenay, Oxon, and London [see note 4]; auctioned at Important pictures by old masters, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, November 24, 1961, lot 59 [see note 5]; purchased by dealer Wildenstein, New York and Paris; purchased (in part by exchange) by Mrs. O’Neill Ryan, i.e. Mrs. Eugenia W. Hitt (1905-1990), New York, September 1974 [see note 6]; by bequest to the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 1991
1. Possibly exhibited by her at the Salon of 1765, no. 90 under “Plusieur portraits, sous le même No.” Another version of this painting was last sold at Galerie Charpentier, Paris, May 28, 1954, lot 79, as attributed to Drouais, “Jeune homme jouant du luth, toile de forme ovale, 73 x 60 cm”. One may assume that Drouais exhibited the signed version at the Salon, which Mme Geoffrin lent to the Salon according to Diderot, Denis. Salons. Vol. II: Salon de 1765. Edited by Jean Seznec and Jean Adhemar. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960, p. 131. However, Laurent Hugues argues that Madame Geoffrin owned the replicas rather than the prime versions. Hugues questions if Milord Holland and the Duke of Berwick would have commissioned Drouais to paint their children and then immediately sell the paintings to Madame Geoffrin. Furthermore, Madame Geoffrin’s notebooks list “5 portraits of oval children at 600 livres a piece” (Comte de Ségur. Le Royaume de la rue Saint-Honoré, Mme Geoffrin et sa fille, 1889, p. 404). For Laurent Hugues’ argument, see “Henri-Edward Fox ou Le Jeune Anglais.” In L’Enfant chéri au siècle des Lumières après l’Émile. 2003, cat. 32. Exh. cat. One of these two versions can be recognized in Gabriel de Saint-Aubin’s drawing of the Salon of 1765 (Louvre INV. 32749).
2. Titled “The Guitar Player” and described as signed and dated 1765, 28 ½ by 24 in.
3. An annotated copy of the auction catalog on microfilm at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. identifies the buyer as “Colnaghi.” Algernon Graves’ index of art sales also lists Colnaghi as the buyer. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century (Mostly Old Master and early English Pictures). London: Algernon Graves, 1921. 238. The painting does not appear in the records of P. & D. Colnaghi at the Getty Research Institute, suggesting that this annotation may refer to Martin Colnaghi, a nephew of P. & D. Colnaghi, but an independent dealer in London. A newspaper article on the auction lists “Colnaghi” as the buyer of 1991.252 and records “keen competition between Mr. Martin Colnaghi, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Agnew” for another painting. "The Lonsdale Sale: Remarkable Prices." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. June 20, 1887, p. 6.
4. Mary Ethel Burns was married to Louis Harcourt (1863-1922), Secretary for the Colonies, who was made Viscount Harcourt in 1917. She was the daughter of Walter Burns (1838-1897) and Mary Lyman Morgan (1844-1919). She was also the sister of Walter Spencer Morgan Burns (1872-1929), London [see BMA 1991.254]. Several paintings from Mary Ethel Burn’s collection came from the Lonsdale collection, which suggests that, like her brother, she may have inherited paintings from her mother, who could in turn have acquired them from the Lonsdale sale through Colnaghi. It is also likely that she kept this and other paintings from her private collection in her London residence rather than among the ancestral portraits at Nuneham. This would explain why this is not mentioned among the paintings noted in the May 1940 inventory of the collection at Nuneham now at the Bodleian Library (copy at the Getty Research Institute ). Ellis Waterhouse also did not mention the painting when she visited Nuneham August 26, 1934 (see Waterhouse notebooks, Getty Research Institute).
5. Illustrated, sold as “Portrait of Madame du Barry,” described as signed and dated Drouais le fils 1765, oval, 27 in. x 23 in.
6. The invoice of September 12, 1974 to Mrs. Hitt from Wildenstein & Co. indicates that the Mrs. Hitt traded another Drouais picture, “Les enfants à la bouillie” (location unknown) as partial payment for 1991.252