The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Mademoiselle de Clermont en sultane
  • Jean-Marc Nattier (1685 - 1766)
  • Mademoiselle de Clermont en sultane
  • France
  • 1733
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 109 x 104.5 cm
  • Signature: 'Nattier.pinxit.1733'
  • P456
  • Oval Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Marie-Anne de Bourbon (1697-1741), called Mademoiselle de Clermont, was the youngest child of Louis III de Bourbon, Prince de Condé and of Mademoiselle de Nantes, an illegitimate, later legitimised daughter of Louis XIV. She was therefore of Royal descent.

    Jean-Marc Nattier portrait is one of the great masterworks of portrait painting from the period. He had painted a life-size portrait of Clermont in 1729 showing her at the springs of Chantilly (Chantilly, Musée Condé) as goddess mineral waters. Three years later, he represented her again, full-length but on a much smaller scale. Nattier depicts Mademoiselle de Clermont as a Sultana, in an orientalising atmosphere of luxury. The work is an early example of Turqueries, depictions in an imaginary 'Turkish' vein, which slowly emerges as a new fashion around 1720.The 'Oriental' setting of the scene allowed to show lower legs and knees of the sitter, an otherwise unacceptable element. In the Chantilly painting, Nattier had shown her fully covered by a long garment. Turquerie were often used for portraiture. The setting of the harem was erotically charged but at the same time interpreted as a more self-determined and independent space for women, a potentially important aspect for the unmarried Clermont. Both portraits are unusually specific and personal to suggest a close involvement of the sitter in the choice of iconography. The painting in Chantilly was painted for Clermont's family and is representative in character. The painting in the Wallace Collection is highly private in its iconography and not apt as a public image of a person of her rank and her function as Surintendante de la maison de la Reine since 1725. It is likely that it was intended for her or, more likely, as a present. Unfortunately, the early provenance of the work is unknown. The painting was only shown at the Salon of 1742, nine years after its creation, a clear sign that its public display was not acceptable while the sitter was still alive.