Late 17th-Century French School

Presumed Portrait Of Louise Françoise, Duchess of Bourbon

Late 17th-Century French School

Presumed Portrait Of Louise Françoise, Duchess of Bourbon

This late 17th-century French oil painting depicts Louise Françoise, Duchess of Bourbon (1673-1743), the eldest legitimised daughter of Louis XIV. It’s reminiscent of works by Pierre Gobert (1662-1744), so perhaps the artist worked in his circle.

The vivacious Louise Françoise led a rather turbulent life and was frequently involved in scandal during her father’s reign. As a child, she was hidden away and raised alongside the King’s other illegitimate children with Madame de Montespan, the King’s ‘maîtresse-en-titre’, on the Rue de Vaugirard in Paris. This sense of being sidelined would’ve contributed to her determination to improve her rank. It also bred a devilishly jealous outlook towards her sister, Françoise Marie de Bourbon, and half-sister, Marie Anne de Bourbon.

Blessed with a talent for dancing, Louise Françoise performed in ballet as a child and was known for her elegant appearance coupled with her sharp wit. Saint-Simon remarked that she “possessed the art of placing everyone at their ease” while also commenting on her “youth in frivolity” which “extended even to debauchery”.

In 1685, she married a distant cousin, Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Bourbon and acquired a dowry of one million livres from her father. This was half the amount given to her younger sister, Françoise Marie, which deeply angered her - creating further friction between the siblings.

Despite raising nine children with her husband, Louise Françoise had several affairs including with François Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, the brother-in-law of Marie Anne de Bourbon. And later with the Marquis de Lassay who built a hotel next to her palace in Paris to bring them closer together. An art gallery connected the two buildings - thus enabling easier access.

Following decades of drama, public scrutiny, and controversial behaviour, Louise Françoise died at the Palais Bourbon at the age of seventy. She was buried at a Carmelite convent in the Paris Latin Quarter. Numerous depictions of her were created throughout her life, of which many were copied for private residences. She was quite a celebrity.

Held within a 17th-century gilt frame, which is probably original.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 18” x 21” / 46cm x 53cm
Year of creation: c. 1690
Provenance: Private collection, Cheltenham, UK.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Various areas of restoration. Cleaned. Revarnished. Canvas relined. Settled craquelure, as you would expect. The paint layer is stable. Frame restored.
Our reference: BRV1841

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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