The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Marguérite Gérard
  • François Dumont (1751 - 1831)
  • Marguérite Gérard
  • France
  • 1793
  • Miniature
  • Painted on ivory
  • Image size: 15.8 x 11.8 cm
    Frame size: 19.8 x 15.6 cm
  • Signature: 'Dumont 1793'
  • M101
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This full-length portrait of a female painter is one of the most beautiful miniatures by Francois Dumont. The sitter was formerly identified as Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (1755-1842), by far the best known female painter of the period. However, there is no real resemblance between her self-portraits and Dumont’s miniature. It has also been suggested that the sitter might be Dumont’s wife, Marie-Nicole Vestier (1767-1846), who would have been twenty-six in 1793, but evidence for this identification is inconclusive.

    In 1981, Joseph Baillio and Sarah Wells-Robertson proposed to identify the sitter, instead, as the painter Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837), who was thirty-two when the miniature was painted. The identification of the sitter as Gérard was based on two other miniatures by Dumont and is supported by the miniature’s provenance from the Fragonard family. Since the re-identification of the Wallace Collection miniature, it has often been reproduced as a genuine contemporary portrait of Gérard, one of the foremost genre painters of the late eighteenth century and the first important female genre painter in France. She was not able to become a member of the Parisian Academy, which had limited the number of its female members to four. Only after the revolution was she allowed to exhibit at the Salon, which by then was open to all artists. Works by her hand of the size of the blank canvas shown on the miniature, however, are not known. She was the sister of Marie-Anne Fragonard and lived with her and her brother-in-law Jean-Honoré Fragonard.