|François Dumont ca. 1800 "A Lady, Possibly the Artist Margeurite Gérard"|
courtesy of Christie's
Another inhabitant of the artist's apartment complex that was the Louvre in those days was painter Margeurite Gérard. Dumont painted her at least twice, both times with her palette and brushes in her hand. They seem to be painted with a kind of affectionate respect, showing her as a professional artist and a person with a sweet, friendly and intelligent personality.
|François Dumont 1793 "Miniature Portrait of Margeurite Gérard" The Wallace Collection|
|Margeurite Gérard "Self-Portrait while Painting a Lute Player" before 1803|
At age 14, upon the death of her mother, Marguerite Gérard went to live with her older sister, miniaturist Marie-Anne Gérard Fragonard and her husband, renowned painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Gérard lived with the family in their apartment in the Louvre, and quickly became a fully integrated member of the Fragonards' studio, studying etching and engraving as well as oil painting. Gérard never married, but seemed content with her position of maiden aunt within the Fragonard household. She was able to study and work to her hearts content. Although never elected to the French Academy (there was a very strict and tiny quota on the number of women artists allowed to join the Academy at this time) she had a very respectable career, receiving numerous commissions and sending forty-two pieces to eleven Salon exhibitions between 1799 and 1824. She produced mainly portraits and genre paintings and some etchings.
|Possibly by Margeurite Gérard, possibly "The Artist's Sister in Her Studio, Painting her Husband's Portrait"|
Zimmerli Art Museum
Marguerite Gérard, French, The Artist, Fragonard's Sister-in-law, Painting her Husband's Portrait.
c. 1780's, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University.
However, some of this attribution is clearly wrong. Margeurite Gérard never married. So she could not be painting "her husband." It is far more likely to be a portrait of Margeurite's sister, the painter Marie-Anne Gérard Fragonard. It might even be a self-portrait by Marie-Anne! The male portrait in progress on the easel does resemble Jean-Honoré Fragonard and the boy might be their son, Alexandre Évariste Fragonard, later a painter himself. The Zimmerli Art Museum has decided to play it safe, understandably by attributing the painting in this way:
Portrait of an Artist in her Studio, ca. 1790
It would be sure fun to time travel back and visit with the Fragonard-Gérard-Dumont posse, and get the answers to these questions!