X. La Maréchale de Mirepoix
Entered September 2014
Oil on canvas
24 x 20 cm
Paris, Sale, November 20ff, 1820, collection of Quintin Craufurd (1743-1819), lot 283: “WATTEAU, (Antoine) . . . T. h. 24, l. 20. . . . La marechale de Mirepoix, vue à mi-corps, dans un costume agreeable. Portrait d’une jolie couleur.” Sold for 120 francs, according to annotated copies of the catalogue in the Frick Art Reference Library and the Getty Research Institute.
As far as can be determined, the reference to this painting has not previously been cited in the Watteau literature. Provided that the sitter was indeed Anne Marguerite Gabrielle de Beauvau-Craon (1707-1798), there is little reason to believe that it was painted by Watteau. She would have been only fourteen years old when Watteau died, there is no mention of her family in the records associated with the artist’s circle, and Watteau was not a professional portraitist to whom a stranger would have turned. She was married to men of prestige, first Jacques Henri de Lorraine, and then to Gaston Pierre de Lévis-Mirepoix (1699-1757), and was the confidante of Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. If the work in question depicted her, most likely it was painted by someone of Nattier’s generation.
Craufurd a British subject who made his fortune in the service of the East India Company, retired early and settled in Paris. He remained a devoted royalist even after the Revolution, and his collection contained many portraits of the Ancien Régime. This painting is just another example of a collector or dealer wishing to confer a good name on an otherwise anonymous work.