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The Duchess of Chaulnes as a Gardener in an Allée
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Louis de Carmontelle
French, Paris, 1771
Watercolor and gouache over black and red chalk
12 1/2 x 7 1/2 in.
94.GC.41

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In this poignant portrait, Louis Carmontelle depicted Marie d'Albert de Luynes taking up the vogue for gardening that Queen Marie Antoinette had popularized among noble women. Gently raking in a verdant allée or garden path, Marie probably posed during a social event at the Parisian court of the duc d'Orléans. At the duke's parties, master of ceremonies Louis Carmontelle entertained guests by drawing on-the-spot portraits.

Marie's wistful expression may reflect her restricted opportunities for amusement. Married at fourteen, her husband rejected her before consummating the marriage. Condemned to lifelong virginity, Marie began dressing only in white.

Carmontelle first sketched using black chalk for the body and red chalk for the arms and face. Later on, he added watercolor, allowing much of the black chalk and blank white paper in her dress to show through.