Carle Vanloo (1705 - 1765)
- Le Grand Seigneur donnant un concert à sa maîtresse (The Grand Turk giving a Concert to his Mistress
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 72.5 x 91 cm
- Inscription: 'Carle Vanloo. 1727 [sic]' Over a damaged signature
Inscription: 'aria del sig. handel / si ca … // si caro Car…'
- Oval Drawing Room
Images & Media
- The painting is a masterwork of French genre painting and one of the best examples of Turqueries, scenes set in an imaginary Turkish environment. Carle Vanloo exhibited the painting at the Salon of 1737, the first held after settling in Paris and his admission to the Academy. Vanloo, still at the beginning of his career, was showing works in a variety genres to attract attention for commissions. It is one of his best genre works. Shortly afterwards he became highly successful as a history painter and rarely painted genre scenes. The date in the signature must originally have read '1737'.
Vanloo painted a scene with obvious Turkish references, the fashion for 'Oriental' scenes being at its peak in the 1730s. The singer is a portrait of Vanloo's wife, Christina Antonia Somis who sings an aria from Handel's opera 'Admeto', ‘Si caro, si’. Also shown at the Salon of 1737 was another Turquerie painting, showing 'The Grand Turk having his Mistress Painted' (Richmond, Virginia, Museum of Fine Arts), in which Van Loo portrayed himself as the artist. The two pictures, often erroneously assumed to be pendants in spite of their widely differing dimensions, thus celebrate the complementary talents of Van Loo and his wife.
Vanloo's painting was highly appreciated in the eighteenth century. Several copies and variants (one by his nephew Louis-Michel Vanloo in the Hermitage) are known; the painting was also used as a model at the Sèvres factory. It passed through a sequence of important eighteenth-century collections. Vanloo only rarely came back to genre painting and to Turqueries in his later career, most prominently in two overdoors with harem scenes painted for Madame de Pompadour in 1754.