CHARLES PICQUE | PORTRAIT OF PAOLINA, SEATED HALF-LENGTH, BEYOND HER ROME AND THE TIBER
Property from Carlo Orsi Gallery, Milan
Deinze 1799 - 1869 Brussels
PORTRAIT OF PAOLINA, SEATED HALF-LENGTH, BEYOND HER ROME AND THE TIBER
signed, inscribed and dated on the letter: C.PICQUE ROMA 1830
signed and inscribed on the reverse: a ma chère Paolina. En souvenir de tout mon amour. C.Piqué
Oil on canvas, unlined
unframed: 99 x 74 cm.; 39 x 29 1/8 in.
framed: 116 x 92 cm.; 45 5/8 x 36 1/4 in.
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Private collection, Rome.
J. De Geest (ed.), 500 chefs-d'œuvre de l'arte belge. Du XVe siècle à nos jours, exh. cat., Luxembourg 2006, p. 330.
“Rome remained the artistic center of Europe for decades into the 19th Century, and this beautiful Portrait of Paolina reminds us of the potent pull that the city continued to have for artists from all over Europe. Indeed, in painting it, Picqué is creating a virtual love letter to the city. The wistful Paolina, a sweeping vista of the Tiber and Rome behind, holds a billet-doux inscribed to her from the artist. Is it, like Raphael’s Donna Velata, a portrait of the artist’s mistress? Or perhaps it is, as I think, Picqué’s idealized tribute to Rome itself.”
After moving to Rome in 1827, having won first prize at the Académie de Bruxelles, Picqué found among the Grand Tourists a ready clientele for his genre pictures and portraits. The present portrait, however, is an altogether more personal picture: as the inscription on the reverse of the canvas tells us, the beautiful lady is the painter's lover Paolina. In her hand she holds a letter from the artist, with a heart pierced by Cupid's arrow. The date inscribed on the reverse tells us the year is 1830, the very same year the artist returned to Belgium. This picture is thus a love token, a memento of the time the artist and sitter spent together in Rome, portrayed so idyllically in the background.