(fl.1699 – 1756)
Portrait of a lady and her daughter
Oil on Canvas, 160 x 110 cm
Provenance: Private collection, Portugal
Thence by decent
This sumptuous and elegant double portrait of a mother and her daughter is imbued with symbolic meaning, which would not have been lost on an 18th Century audience. They are both dressed in extravagantly beautiful clothes. The daughter’s dress of blue silk is embroidered with gold and silver thread, whilst her mother is wrapped in maroon velvet and has drop pearls in her hair and as earrings. A further indication of their wealth is that they are standing by an orange tree which, would have been nurtured in a “stove house”.
The orange blossom, which the mother is holding above her daughter’s head, is symbolic of purity, chastity and innocence. This association with orange blossom originates in China, where brides wore it or images of it on their wedding dresses. It worked its way along the silk route through India and Persia and was introduced into Western Europe by the crusaders.
Henri Millot who has managed to capture the subtle surface textures of these clothes with such bravura, worked closely with Nicolas de Largillière (1656-1746) which is evident from his technique. He was a close friend of Marie-Claire Hermant, Lagillière’s first cousin and acted as a witness at her marriage to Georges Roettiers on 18th May 1711. We know this, as he signed the wedding contract.
He worked in Munich, from 1721-1724, during which time he painted the portrait of Duke Gustav Adolph des Deux Ponts (1722, Schleissheim museum). By 1730 he was in Strasbourg, but definitely back in Paris by the end of his life where he exhibited 2 portraits at the Académie de Saint Luc in 1756.
Dominique Brême, the expert on the artist, has confirmed its authenticity from first hand inspection.