Comtesse d'Haussonville
© The Frick Collection
oil painting of a woman in a blue dress leaning against a dresser in front of a mirror
close-up of an oil painting of a woman in a blue dress leaning against a dresser in front of a mirror
close-up of an oil painting of a woman in a blue dress leaning against a dresser in front of a mirror
English (US)
Transcript
This work resulted from a somewhat begrudging encounter--on the artist's part--between the greatest portrait painter in France, in his sixties, and a young princess in her twenties--by then the mother of three. Louise, Princesse de Broglie, granddaughter of the formidable author Madame de Stael, had married the young Vicomte d'Haussonville at the age of eighteen. In her remarkably frank memoirs, Louise said of herself at this time, "I was destined to beguile, to attract, to seduce, and in the final reckoning to cause suffering in all those who sought their happiness in me." If this were the case with her husband, it did not affect his love for her. Following Louise's death, he instantly moved out of their Parisian residence and ordered a copy made of this portrait, which Louise had bequeathed to her daughter. For her time and elevated social position, Louise was outspokenly independent and liberal. She published a number of books, including biographies of Byron and the Irish revolutionary Robert Emmet. Ingres labored on this canvas for three years, with several false starts and a great many preparatory drawings. In the end, the artist noted that the finished work had "aroused a storm of approval." One close friend of the family told him, "You must have been in love to depict her in this way." And indeed there is something provocatively intimate in this scene, as though Ingres had cornered his prey in the corner of her boudoir, nonchalantly leaning on an upholstered fireplace.

Comtesse d'Haussonville

Date: 1845
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
51 7/8 x 36 1/4 in. (131.8 x 92.1 cm)
Framed: 66 1/2 × 51 × 4 1/4 in. (168.9 × 129.5 × 10.8 cm)
Credit Line: Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1927
Accession number:1927.1.81
Additional Information
Louise, Princesse de Broglie (1818–82) and granddaughter of Madame de Staël, married at the age of eighteen. Her husband was a diplomat, writer, and member of the French Academy, and she herself published a number of books, including biographies of Robert Emmet and Byron. For her time and her elevated social caste, she was outspokenly independent and liberal. This portrait, begun in 1842, was the fruit of several false starts and a great many preparatory drawings, including full-scale studies of the raised left arm, the head, and its reflection. According to a letter written by the artist, the finished work “aroused a storm of approval among her family and friends.” Ingres appears to have surprised the young lady in the intimacy of her boudoir, where she leans against an upholstered fireplace, having just discarded her evening wrap and opera glasses.

Source: Art in The Frick Collection: Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

This painting was the subject of a 1985 exhibition at The Frick Collection entitled Ingres and the Comtesse d’Haussonville.
Madame d’Haussonville. Her son, Gabriel Paul Othenin de Cléron, Comte d’Haussonville, 1882–1924. Wildenstein, 1927. Frick, 1927.

Source: Paintings in The Frick Collection: French, Italian and Spanish. Volume II. New York: The Frick Collection, 1968.