This exquisite late 19th-century oil painting by French illustrator Rene Lelong depicts a family at the opera. It’s brimming with lavish outfits and symbolic references to Parisian society.
In the foreground, we see the central figure, a young lady wearing a beautiful bell-shaped dress. The folds of the drapery catch the light, which extends across her shoulders and towards her neck. She’s conspicuously fashionable, catching glances from potential suitors. Immersed in the riddles of love.
Her mother, deliberately sitting back in the box, looks towards the audience with a rigid expression. Perhaps trying to dissuade the wrong kind of gentlemen. While her father adopts an open stance as he looks towards his daughter.
The young lady is watching the opera while her parents, along with her younger sister, are looking elsewhere. She’s aware of the attention yet remaining aloof to court further intrigue. In the 19th-century, an evening at the theatre was rarely about the performance itself.
Lelong was known as one of the leading illustrators in France and worked with several publishers. It’s possible that the painting was commissioned ahead of a magazine article or a work of fiction.
The painting is signed in the upper right, framed and glazed.