Kimbell Art Museum Exhibition Catalog
June 5 - August 8, 1982

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Catalog Number 37

Art Page 25
Oil on paper, laid on canvas
19 x 137/8 inches (48.2 x 35.2 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: L E Vigee Le Brun / pour son ami De Non / Venise 1792 The Toledo Museum of Art; Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey

In the belief that she was returning to France, Vigee Le Brun left Rome in mid-April of 1792. Her itinerary included cities she had not as yet visited, among them Venice, where she arrived the day before the feast of the Ascension. Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825), an old acquaintance, introduced her to his mistress Isabella Marini, nee Teotocchi (1760-1837). Signora Marini, a very liberated woman by standards of the time, was one of Venice's more popular hostesses. (She later married the State Inquisitor, Count Albrizzi, and her salon was by Canova, Mme de Stael, Chateaubriand, and Stendhal.) She took Mme Le Brun in hand and guided her through the city: "That very evening she offered to take me to a cafe, which surprised me somewhat as I was unfamiliar with local customs. But I was even more surprised when she asked me: 'Don't you have a friend to accompany you?' I answered that I had come alone with my daughter and her governess. 'Well then,' she continued, at least you must look as if you had someone. I am going to lend you M. Denon, who will give you his arm and I shall find another for myself. People will think I have broken up with him and this will go on the whole time you are here, because you cannot go about without an escort"' (Souvenirs, 11, 171).

This small, intimate study of Isabella Marini was painted for her lover Denon. It emphasizes the sitter's more voluptuous features: the mass of dark curls, the thick sensual lips, and the partially exposed breast.

An anonymous copy of the portrait was recently in a private collection, London.

ETCHING: Dominique Vivant Denon, published in L'Originale et il ritratto, Bassano, 1792 (a collection of writings dedicated to Isabella Marini); also published in A. de La Fizeliere, ed., L'Oeuvre originate de Vivant Denon, Paris, 1873, no. 193.

PROVENANCE: Painted for Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825) (Under Napoleon, Denon became the director of the Imperial Museums); his estate sale, Paris, May 1, 1826, lot 210; acquired by the sitter, by then, Countess Albrizzi, Palazzo Albrizzi, Venice, until 1836; by inheritance to Stefano Bardini, Florence; his sale, London, Christie's, June 5-7, 1899, lot 484; E. M. Hodgkins, until 1913; sold, London, Christie's, May 14, 1920, lot 83; with C. Morland Agnew, London; Burgh collection; sold, London, Christie's, July 9, 1926, lot 132; acquired by Frederick A. Szarvasy, London; his sale, London, Christie's, December 10, 1948, lot 60; with Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London; acquired in 1950 by The Toledo Museum of Art.

SELECTED REFERENCES: Souvenirs, II, 171; V. Malamani, Isabella Teotocchi-Albrizzi, i suoi amici - il stio tempo, Turin, 1882, p. 20; Nolhac, 1908, p. 102; Helm, [1915], pp. 106, 114,185, illus. facing p. 166; 0. Wittman, ed., The Toledo Museum of Art, European Paintings, University Park, Pa., 1976, p. 165 (entry contains a more complete bibliography), illus. pl. 209; exhibition catalogue, Venice, Museo Correr, Venezia nell' etd di Canova, October- December 1978, cited under no. 72.

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