Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Paintings Evening Sale


Jean-Marc Nattier
Paris 1685 - 1766
PARIS 1685 - 1766
signed and dated lower left: Nattier. pinxit/ 1752
oil on canvas
121 by 96 cm.; 47 3/4 by 37 3/4 in.
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Collection Joseph Bardac, Paris, 1905 and 1910 (according to Nolhac, under Literature);
Collection Luis Bemberg, Paris;
Collection Otto Bemberg, Paris, 1925 (according to Nolhac) and 1930 (according to Huard);
Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 5 December 1985, lot 15;
With Newhouse Galleries, New York;
Henry Kravis, New York, 1987;
Anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby's, 19 May 1995, lot 137.


Paris, Salon, 1753, no. 48 ('Le Portrait de Madame Boudrey, représentée en Muse, qui dessine dans le fond du Tableau se voit le Parnasse'; see Collection des livrets des anciennes expositions..., Salon de 1753, Paris 1869, p. 20);
Versailles, Musée National des Châteaux, Jean-Marc Nattier, 26 October 1999 - 30 January 2000, no. 68.


J.-B Leblanc, Lettres d'un françois, 1753, p. 33;
P. de Nolhac, J.M. Nattier, peintre de la cour de Louis XV, Paris 1905, pp. 115, 137 and 158, reproduced on p. 116;
P. de Nolhac, Nattier, peintre de la cour de Louis XV, Paris 1925, pp. 206, 209, 210, 248 and 277, reproduced on p. 206;
G. Huard, in L. Dimier, Les Peintres français du XVIIIe siècle. Histoire des vies et catalogue des oeuvres, Paris/Brussels 1930, vol. II, p. 124, cat. no. 59;
T. Burollet, Musée Cognacq-Jay. Peintures et dessins, Paris 1980, pp. 154 and 156;
P. Rosenberg & M.C. Stewart, French Paintings 1500-1825. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco 1987, pp. 233-36, reproduced fig. 1;
X. Salmon, Jean-Marc Nattier, exhibition catalogue, Versailles, Musée National des Châteaux, 26 October 1999 - 30 January 2000, pp. 241-44, cat. no. 68, reproduced in colour on p. 242.

Catalogue Note

The sitter, Marie-Geneviève Boudrey (née Radix), was widely considered the most beautiful woman of the age. She was twice married, once to Jean-François Boudrey, first agent to the Controller-General and secondly, after his death in 1760, to Nicolas-Augustin de Malbec de Montjoc, Marquis de Briges and captain of the King's guard, a man with whom she had been rumoured to have had an affair during her first marriage. Mme. Boudrey was coveted at the same time by the King himself and the Dauphin although nothing is certain to have come of either's admiration for her.1  However, stories of their liaisons were a popular subject of gossip amongst the French upper class. The story told by Le Marquis d'Argenson is worthy of Cholderos de Laclos' tales of intrigue and deceipt:

'L'on conte une autre aventure singulière arrivée il y a quinze mois, et que l'on m'a donnée pour certaine. La femme d'un commis des finances nommé Boudret est une personne d'une rare beauté. Le Roi et le Dauphin l'avaient convoitée en même temps. Le jour où elle avait rendezvous avec le Roi, elle relut une lettre du Dauphin qui lui demandait aussi un rendezvous. Elle se trouva fort embarassée [et] ... alla au rendez-vous avec le Roi, comme capable de la mieux payer.'2

While the tales surrounding her courtships must be considered at least in part as rumour, her extreme beauty cannot be doubted, D'Argenson describing her in 1750 as 'effectivement la plus belle femme du temps'.3

In 1752, when she sat to Nattier for this portrait, Mme. Boudrey was at the height of her notoriety. Elegantly dressed and seated in a confident pose, her features and coquettish smile hint at her current misdemeanours. She is a picture of virtuosity, however, and shown in the guise of a muse (of the graphic arts), set apart from her eight companions who recline in the background on Mount Helicon, guarded by Apollo and Pegasus. Such is its grace and beauty that, when exhibited at the Salon of 1753, this painting was widely praised; by Abbé Garrigues de Froment who described all of Nattier's portraits exhibited that year as 'very pleasing' and 'the accroutements... very flattering';4  and by Abbé Leblanc who described the portrait as 'rendering all the feeling and grace of the actual sitter'.5

A studio copy of this painting is in the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (inv. no. 50.35.1).6

1.  According to P. Rosenberg and M. Stewart, see under Literature.
2.  Duc de Luynes, Mémoires du duc de Luynes sur la cour de Louis XV..., Paris 1865, vol. VIII, pp. 119-20 (trans.: 'I have been told another remarkable story which took place fifteen months ago, and I have been assured of its veracity. The wife of a finance clerk called Boudret is a woman of rare beauty. The King and the Dauphin coveted her at the same time. The day she had an arranged meeting with the King, she re-read a letter from the Dauphin which also requested a meeting. She was extremely embarrassed [and]... went to the meeting with the King, as she supposed he could pay her more').
3.  Duc de Luynes, op. cit., 1863, vol. VI, p. 242 (trans.: '... the most beautiful woman of the age').
4.  G. Duplessis (ed.), Catalogue de la Collection...recueillie par P.J. Mariette, Ch. Nic. Cochin et M. Deloynes, Paris 1881, vol. 5, p. 23.
5.  G. Duplessis, op. cit., p. 32.
6.  Rosenberg and Stewart, op. cit., pp. 233-36.

Old Master Paintings Evening Sale