A portrait of Marie-Antoinette lost for 100 years was purchased by the Palace of Versailles for € 175,500, more than five times the estimated price.
The oil painting on canvas belonged to a family in Essonne, who had no idea that the subject was the old dauphine de france.
It was sold by the Aguttes auction house for an estimated value of between € 20,000 and € 30,000.
The portrait was commissioned in 1771 from King’s painter (Le Peintre du Roi) Joseph-Siffred Duplessis and was intended for Marie-Antoinette’s mother, Empress Marie-Thérèse of Austria.
The painting, which shows Marie-Antoinette at the age of 16, was originally intended to be an equestrian portrait but became a bust portrait due to an insufficient number of posing sessions.
There are two almost identical versions of this painting, both lost.
It was Grégoire Lacroix, director of the Old Paintings and Drawings department at the Aguttes auction house, who rediscovered this version, probably produced in Duplessis’ workshop with the help of his students.
Mr. Lacroix was contacted by clients seeking to sell the painting, who only called him The Little Marquise (“The little marquise”).
“The model’s features reminded me of Marie-Antoinette. We did some research and were able to find the sketch in Versailles made by Duplessis. By studying the history of this commission, we were able to identify the fact that he had made several paintings, including one that disappeared a hundred years ago, ”he said.
The painting has since been renamed Portrait of the Dauphine of France, Marie-Antoinette of Lorraine-Habsbourg (1755-1793).
It was last known in the collection of the Marquise de Ganay but it is “very, very common” that paintings “disappear”, according to Mr. Lacroix:
“It happens about once a week in this area. We find works and often the owners do not know the history of them, especially given the historical events of over 100 years ago – the French Revolution, the movements of the castles… A lot of French castles emptied during the Revolution and things dispersed so they lost their identity ”.
Mr. Lacroix explained that he estimated the portrait would sell for between € 20,000 and € 30,000, as most of Duplessis’ works sell for between € 10,000 and € 20,000, although it is difficult to predict how much. buyers are willing to pay as the artist’s works produce. “very different” results, with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin sold for over € 1 million.
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