The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
An Unknown Woman
  • Peter Adolf Hall (1739 - 1793)
  • An Unknown Woman
  • France
  • around 1791
  • Miniature
  • Painted on ivory
  • Image size: 7.9 x 6.5 cm
    Frame size: 8.5 x 7 cm
  • Signature: 'hall'
    Inscription: 'Mlle Ledoux / Hall'
  • M193
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • On the basis of a handwritten note on the back of the miniature, the woman has traditionally been identified as Jeanne-Philiberte Ledoux (1767-1840), painter, pupil of Jean-Baptiste Greuze and daughter of the architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. Unfortunately, this attractive theory cannot be sustained. Two documented portraits of Ledoux – her self-portrait in Paris (Musée des Arts Décoratifs) and her portrait by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (Durham, North Carolina, Semans Collection) – show a woman with quite different features and dark, brownish eyes, not the bright blue eyes of Hall’s miniature.

    The painting on the easel in the background has been considered the work of the sitter but there is no indication that the woman in Hall’s portrait is actually a painter. She is holding neither the pen or chalk nor the brush and palette that usually feature in the portrait of a painter. The painting on the easel is a seventeenth-century work, as the dress and hairstyle of the sitter and style of the painting indicate. In the early nineteenth century it was identified as a portrait of Henri IV’s minister, the duc de Sully, but the resemblance is not convincing. It bears some resemblance to portraits of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus, leader of the Protestants during the Thirty Years War and a Swedish national hero. A portrait miniature of Gustavus Adolphus by Hall after a seventeenth-century model is known.

    The style of the miniature and the woman’s dress seem to indicate that the miniature was painted shortly before Hall left France in 1791.