'Comtesse de Morel-Vindé and her daughter', Baron François-Pascal-Simon Gérard
Oil on canvas, painted in 1799
On loan from a private collection
The portrait combines the grandeur and affection typical of the French artist Gérard at the height of his powers. The daughter tenderly holds her mother’s arm, having presumably just played the music entitled ‘A Ma Mère’ (To My Mother).
The setting is the family’s fashionably furnished Paris home, with a delicately captured view through muslin curtains to the townscape beyond. As the plaque on the picture-frame suggests, the portrait was probably intended for the mother’s side of the family.
A painted replica of the portrait (in San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts) was commissioned in 1799 for the father, the very wealthy Comte de Morel -Vindé (1759-1842), who had survived the French Revolution by going into political retirement and taking up agricultural research.
In 1800, after Gérard was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to paint his portrait and those of many of his family and entourage, he became France’s most fashionable portrait painter and was created a Baron in 1819.
Painted replica, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco