The present work exemplifies nineteenth-century French taste for Orientalism and turqueries. Dressed in a red velvet jacket with stunning gilded embroidery, this woman might have well been inspired by one of the numerous publications of time on Ottoman costumes, including Auguste Wahlen’s book Mœurs, usages et costumes de tous les peuples du monde, d'après des documents and authentiques et les voyages des plus récents (1843-44) which included coloured prints after watercolours by Duverger amongst other artists.
While the sitter's dress and the gueridon table are quintessentially Turkish, in her left hand she appears to be holding a Jiajing or Wanli wucai decorated jarlet and cover, of the style produced in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. While covered jars of this type were originally produced as tea caddies, here it has been used to contain incense. The Chinese origins of the pot are a subtle reminder of the Silk Road which connected China with the Mediterranean through trade.
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