Portrait of Jeanne-Marie de Sacconin de Pravieux, Wife of Francois Dulieu, Seigneur de Chénevoux, as Diana (Primary Title)

Nicholas de Largillière, French, 1656 - 1746 (Artist)

ca. 1715-1720
Oil on canvas
Unframed: 52 3/4 x 40 1/2 in. Framed: 64 x 52 1/2 x 4 in.
Aristocratic women demonstrated a decided preference for being depicted in the guise of the Roman goddess Diana in the imaginative portraiture of the 17th century. By this time, synthesizing a sitter’s likeness with mythological or other literary personages from history painting had become a highly lucrative conceit for artists, and these portraits often revealed much about their patrons’ values and ideals. Whereas portraiture in previous eras tended to adapt women’s features to predetermined ideals of beauty or to emphasize their suitability as wives and mothers, the iconography of the virgin goddess of the woodland hunt appears to have emancipated women from patriarchal standards of beauty and virtue. In various tales, Diana was known to punish men who attempted to rival her or threaten her chastity to any degree. To transform this young lady into a self-possessed goddess, Largillière had her pose brandishing a spear, with an imperative gesture that appropriates the commanding authority of princes and military commanders in the forefront of battle scenes. The magnitude of her charisma undoubtedly reflects the evolution of women affirming their own standards for artistic expression in France, which began with the preciosité movement.
The Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection

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