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Louis de Silvestre - Portrait of a young lady à la Turque

Louis de Silvestre - Portrait of a young lady à la Turque


French 18th century old master portrait of a majestic and elegant lady, attributed to Louis de Silvestre.


The aristocratic lady gazes at the viewer with a kind and enigmatic smile and twinkling eyes. De Silvestre paid great attention to her spectacular outfit, which is striking in its portrayal of the sumptuous fabrics and their decorative richness, emphasising the importance and social standing of the sitter. She is wearing a luxurious royal blue robe à la Turque which features a thick fur trim, elegantly lifting her robe so that we can admire her narrow waist and the incredibly expensive fur-lining. Her golden silk dress is further complemented with a delicately embroidered bodice which has been adorned with countless precious stones, silver threads and lace. Her feathery headpiece features a silk veil which has been attached to her hat with a string of large pearls. 


Louis de Silvestre (23 June 1675 – 11 April 1760) was a French painter, who was court painter to King Augustus II of Poland and director of the Royal Academy of Arts in Dresden. Friedrich August II, the prince-elector of Saxony, met Silvestre when he was in France and offered him the chance to work at the court of his father Augustus II, King of Poland. The artist accepted the offer, obtained permission from Louis XV, and set off on April 23, 1716; by 1718 he was living in Dresden. Both Augustus II and his son were great admirers of Silvestre's work, and bestowed upon him, in the space of thirty years, every honour imaginable: he was appointed first court painter, then, in 1727, director of the Royal Academy of Arts; he was ennobled in 1741, as was his brother Charles-François. During this period, Silvestre completed, with the help of his wife, Marie-Catherine Hérault, many oil paintings and frescos, either in Dresden or in Warsaw. He painted many portraits of the King and Queen, as well as those of other leading aristocrats. He was responsible for the most important works in the Palace of Dresden, notably, subjects drawn from Ovid's Metamorphoses for several ceremonial bedrooms and several ceilings. On the death of Heinrich Christian Fehling [de] (1654–1725), Silvestre was made Director of the Art Academy in Dresden.

During the time he remained at the court of Dresden, Silvestre was known as much for his personality and his distinguished friends, as by his artistic talents. The great number of works that came from his brush and the generosity of his patrons allowed him to amass a considerable fortune, and, having achieved financial security, he retired and returned to France. Louis XV awarded him a pension of 1000 crowns and apartments in the Palais du Louvre itself. In 1752 he was appointed director of the Academy of Paris.


The attribution has been confirmed by Cabinet Turquin.


Provenance: Private collection France


Biographical information on Louis de Silvestre was obtained from; Louis-Étienne Dussieux, Les Artistes français à l’étranger (Paris; Lyon, Jacques Lecoffre, 1876) pp. 86-88.


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