The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Morning Toilet Interrupted
  • Niclas Lafrensen (1737 - 1807)
  • The Morning Toilet Interrupted
  • France
  • c. 1780
  • Miniature
  • Gouache on ivory
  • Diameter: 6.5 cm
    Frame size: 8 x 8 cm
  • Label: 'No. 2096 / R.600 / Lavrience'
  • M259
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Lafrensen’s ‘Morning Toilet Interrupted’ depicts an interior scene in a fashionable setting. An otherwise naked young woman wrapped in a towel after bathing is attended by a female servant. Both are interrupted by the lapdog which has just spotted a man peeping through the door. The simple narrative can immediately be grasped and its titillating character is only slightly veiled. The miniature, meant to be held and seen from close-up, plays with the voyeurism inferred in the story.

    The miniature forms a pair with another roundel with an erotic subject, ‘The Morning Conversation’ (M260). Like its pendant it implies that we can see behind the scenes. While the intruder in ‘The Morning Toilet Interrupted’ makes forbidden viewing part of the scene’s storyline, we are here presented with a scene of female confidentiality, which is not meant to be seen yet is obviously arranged for the male viewer. Both miniatures are interesting for their rendering of luxurious Neoclassical Parisian interiors with up-to-date furniture in both the Transition and Louis XVI styles.

    Even though stylistically the chronology of Lafrensen’s work is yet to be clearly established, his ‘La Soubrette confidente’, an etching of which by Gérard Vidal was published in 1782, is similar in style and has comparable objects depicted in an interior. Another work known through an etching published in 1779, ‘Le Curieux’, depicts a similar incident of male voyeurism. These works might help to date the two Wallace Collection roundels to around 1780.