Jean Raoux began his career in Montpellier under the tutelage of Antoine Ranc, before moving to Paris in 1704 where he worked in the studio of Bon de Boullogne. His 1705 entry of David killing Goliath (untraced), won him first prize in the Academy's Prix de Rome. In the proceeding years Raoux travelled throughout Italy where he studied the work of the Venetian colorists, namely Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, as well as the frescoes of Raphael. In Florence and Padua he executed an Annunciation and a Visitation for the city Cathedrals, both of which remain in situ. Following his return to Paris in 1714, he was accepted at the Royal Academy as a history painter, though it is primarily through intimate portraits of women, such as the present example, that Raoux established his considerable reputation while living in Paris, and it is for these sensuous depictions that he is still best known today. This work is typical of his bust-length depictions of elegant ladies clothed in rich fabrics, and rendered with a strong line and high degree of finish. The strong contrast of light and dark is apparent here, and demonstrates Raoux's further understanding of the Leiden fijnschilders, such as Godfreid Schalcken and Caspar Netscher. Such associations with Dutch painters did not go unnoticed in Raoux's own lifetime, as Voltaire would describe Raoux as "un peintre inégal mais, quand il a réussi, il a égalé le Rembrandt " ('an uneven artist but one who when he was at his best equaled Rembrandt.').
The composition was engraved by Jean-Baptiste Poilly (1669-1728) (see M. Hilaire, Jean Raoux: un peintre sous la régence, 1677-1734, exhibition catalogue, Montpellier 2009, p. 196, cat. no. 26).
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