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Portrait of Madame Récamier

Painting, 1800, 174×244 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Madame Récamier»

Image Madame Récamier experts consider, first, the best portrait painted by Jacques-Louis David, and secondly, a reference example of the Empire style in easel painting. It's funny that she Julie Récamier was dissatisfied with the painting, which it never was finished.

Julie Adelaide Recamier (J. A. Recamier) – famous at the turn of XVIII and XIX centuries, secular beauty and hostess of a famous salon, which in the era of the Directory was the main center of Parisian intellectual life. Here met, flirted and hoarse arguing the best people of his time: the writer Chateaubriand and the critic Sainte-BEUVE, Marshal Bernadotte (later king of Norway and Sweden) and novelist Madame de Stael. The literature here met with politics, intelligent, educated and, let's face it, a damn fine hostess skillfully moderated the communication between people is often the opposite and even hostile views. Among admirers Julie was listed as the brother of Napoleon, Lucien Bonaparte, Prince Augustus of Prussia, and many more.

The glory of Madame Récamier very soon crossed the borders of France, and her name has passed into the category of common nouns. She was in Italy and Austria, England and Germany. In distant Russia in the early nineteenth century "North Recamier" called Alexandra Osipovna Smirnova, host, entertain and care for the best representatives of Russian literature, including Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol. And who did the same 100 years later Zinaida Shakhovskaya, in whose living room met Bunin, Khodasevich, Zamyatin, Nabokov, complained: about it, do not cease to speak evil, say, but not all laurels Recamier. "Age is not the salons, and living rooms. Not Récamier – just the ladies"– wrote about your time Block.

Her personal life was unusual. When Julie was 16, she was wooed 42-year-old rich banker Récamier, once passionately in love with her mother. Very soon Julie got hitched, but the inner circle knew that between spouses has never been intimate and family relationships was more like a respectful trust between father and daughter. It was rumored that Julie really might be the daughter of a banker Récamier, who went to the extraordinary step by getting married to in case of a possible political upheaval his fortune passed to his nearest man – Julie.

Perhaps this is why David chose to depict 23-year-old Madame Récamier in the way of barefoot the ancient vestal virgin. The Empire style (many of his manifestations will be called "style Recamier", as once called Rococo "style Pompadour") corresponded perfectly to my plan. Madam reclines on the couch, reminiscent of an antique bed. After portrait, this piece of furniture are in Vogue, the Empire style daybed will be called: "Récamier". A white dress with a high waist like a tunic. David wrote it without any of the modern finishes to make it look Greek concise and simple. Updo of curls "in the Greek style," popular in the period of the Directory, compared to the "monarchical" powdered wigs seem a model of naturalness. However, Julie was unhappy that her black hair David, inspired by the green-olive range, for the sake of color harmony made brown.

David wrote "Portrait Recamier" perfectionist slow and long: the light fell not from the mood was wrong. Capricious beauty got tired of waiting and instructed to write myself to another artist Francois Gerard. And David was jealous and said that if so, he will not become a complete portrait: "Women have their whims, Madam, and artists – their". The lamp and the lamp on the picture was finished already a pupil of David, Ingres. However, in this austere incompleteness, echoing in the empty space, getting rid of bulky furniture and draperies, now I see the beauty of the picture, because they do charm, Rekam even more exciting.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Classicism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1800

Size: 174×244 cm

Artwork in selections: 26 selections

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