L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Portrait en pied d'une jeune femme blonde, robe de velours noir" - miniature portrait by Louis-François Aubry

La baronne de Benoist, by Louis-François Aubry, watercolor on ivory, circa 1815-20.

At eleven inches by seven inches, this is an unusually large miniature on ivory. The charming subject has been identified as "la baronne de Benoist", but no further information seems to be available. There has been some conjecture online that this is a portrait of the artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist, but she was born in 1768, making her too old to be the lady portrayed here. (Also, she was brunette and had married a comte not a baron.) From my research, this appears to be Caroline-Geneviève-Guislaine-Joséphine, baronne de Benoist (26 January 1784 - 8 November 1847), daughter of the French/Belgian noble family Benoist de Gentissart. The portrait is undated but is probably circa 1815-20, which would put the subject in her early thirties. She died at the age of sixty-three having - unusually for the time - never married.

The color and detail are exquisite; the lorgnette tucked at her waist, the gorgeous red of the shawl, the beautifully described harp "head".
The line leading from the base of the harp frame and crossing into the strings is likely from a crack; a common occurrence in ivory miniatures.


Louis-François Aubry (1767 or 1770, Paris - 1751), French artist known for his miniature portraits. He studied under François-André Vincent and Jean-Baptiste Isabey, and went on to a successful career. At the Salon of 1810 he exhibited portraits of the King - Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, brother of the French emperor - and Queen of Westphalia, which were highly praised.


  1. The small diadem(or perhaps comb) in her hair is one you don't see anymore because it doesn't wear well with modern hairstyles. The late Queen Fabiola's Wolfer's necklace tiara is one such modern piece. It never looked quite right on her as tiara and doesn't work on Queen Mathilde at all. But I love seeing this style of tiara/diadem in the old paintings.

    Fabiola's Wolfers tiara for reference:


    Please note the above is not my site and I am not trying to promote it.

    1. Yes, I've always thought the Wolfers was rather a silly little thing. ; )