This engaging pastel was exhibited at the Salon of 1753, and has a remarkable, superbly documented, provenance
, having been sold only once since that time. Georges Dormeuil purchased it in 1901 directly from Yves Lemoyne, great-grandson of the sitter's husband, who provided him with an extensive receipt (fig.1), which records that the portait represents Jeanne Dorus, third wife of the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (1704-1778), at the age of 32, in 1753. Dominique d'Arnoult, who will include this pastel in her forcoming catalogue raisonné
, and Neil Jeffares have, however, kindly informed us that archival documents make it clear that the sitter's maiden name was in fact more correctly Marie Jeanne Doru. She married Le Moyne, already twice a widower, in 1750, but did not herself fare all that much better than her predecessors, surviving only until 1762.
The 1901 receipt further records that the transaction also included a pastel portrait of the sitter's husband, executed by Maurice Quentin de La Tour in 1747, although the attribution of that work must be cast into some doubt by the fact that its price was only 2,000 francs, in contrast to 11,800 that the buyer paid for the present work by Perronneau.