I had a serendipitous encounter with this lovely portrait yesterday and was so moved I knew I simply had to share it with you, my much-appreciated coterie. This portrait was painted by the incomparable Madame Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun who, incidentally, was Marie Antoinette's official portraitist. The subject is the Baroness Crussol, wife of Henri-Charles-Emmanuel de Crussol-Florensac, lieutenant general of the armies of the King of France.
The Baroness holds a book of opera music, opened to a score by Christoph Willibald Gluck who, incidentally, was Marie Antoinette's preferred composer.
Of course, I love the references to Marie Antoinette, but what I truly adore/covet is the Baroness's smart ensemble.
Look at the lace peeking out from her three-quarter-length sleeves - a family heirloom, perhaps handed down from her grandmother to her mother to her.
A lace fichu has been neatly tucked into the bodice of her gown and rises high enough to keep the back of her neck warm (Ladies of the 21st Century attempt similar effects with their pashminas)
Notice, too, the fur lining the jacket. It is a luxe touch to this opulent but restrained get-up.
The Baroness probably wore panniers - though not full, court-sized ones - as her gown flares slightly at the hips.
Finally, notice her wide brimmed chapeau. I love that it is black with a bold splash of red fabric on the crown and the way it dramatically frames her face. Don't you?
Two years after she painted the portrait of the Baroness de Crussol, Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun painted a portrait of the lovely woman's husband, Alexandre Charles Emmanuel de Crussol-Florensac. If you would like to see his portrait and learn more about him, please click here.