Portrait of Madame la Comtesse de Cambacérès

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Portrait of Madame la Comtesse de Cambacérès


The grand formality and academic execution of this portrait remind us that not all fin-de-siècle artists were bent on toppling artistic conventions. The quintessential Salon painter, Bouguereau had great success with mythological and genre paintings and, more rarely, portraits.

Louise de Rohan Chabot was born in Paris in 1860 and married the Count of Cambacérès in 1886. While working on this portrait, Bouguereau privately complained about the countess’ weak chin and up-tilted nose, so he turned her face toward the viewer to minimize these flaws. Further flattering the sitter are her pose and the setting, which embody the grace and dignity befitting her aristocratic status.

The carved and gilded frame is original to the painting.
Oil on canvas
47 5/8 x 35 1/2 in. (120.97 x 90.17 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, by exchange
Provenance: Commissioned by Baron Delaire de Cambacérès (1855-1906), France, in 1895; to Stanislas Lannes de Montebello (1876-1966), husband of Marie Delaire de Cambacérès (1887-1985); to heirs of the latter until 1981; sold to gallery of Madame Boucaille, Paris; [Shepherd Gallery, New York, by June 1981]; [Philip Hewat-Jaboor Ltd. Works of Art, London, until 1983]; Private Collection; [Sotheby’s New York, 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, May 24, 1988, sale no. 5720, lot no. 70, reproduced]; purchased by the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryParis, France, Salon, 1896. No. 275.

Paris, France, Exposition Universelle, 1900. No. 246.

New York, New York, Shepherd Gallery, French and Other European Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century, 1981. Text by Robert J.F. Kashey and Martin L.H. Reymert. Cat. no. 27.

Paris, France, Musee du Petit-Palais, William Bouguereau 1825-1905, 1984-85 (Montreal, Canada, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Hartford, Connecticut, The Wadsworth Atheneum). Text by Louise d'Argencourt. Cat. no. 130, pp. 244-246.

Paris, France, Musee Carnavalet Histoire de Paris, Chaumet: Deux Siecles de Creation, Mar. 25-June 28, 1998. Cat. no. 129.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, French Painting from SAM's Permanent Collection, Apr. 23, 2005-Jan. 2, 2006.

Memphis, TN, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Bouguereau & America, June 22-Sept. 22, 2019. (Milwaukee, WI, Milwaukee Art Museum, Feb. 14-May 12, 2019; San Diego, CA, San Diego Museum of Art, Nov. 9, 2019-Mar. 15, 2020).
Published ReferencesTardieu, Eugene, interview with Bouguereau; "La peinture et les peintres en 1895," L'Echo de Paris, May 8, 1895.

Geffroy, Gustave, "Le Salon des Champs Elysees," in Le Journal, April 30, 1896.

Gille, Phillipe, "Figaro-Salon", supplement to Figaro, April 25, 1896.

Vachon, Marius, W. Bouguereau, Paris: A. Lahure, 1900, p. 159.

Bartoli, Damien and Frederick C. Ross. William Bouguereau: His Life and Works. Woodbridge, N.J.: Antique Collectors' Club, 2010. No cat. no., pl. 223, reproduced p. 362, 378.

Bartoli, Damien with Frederick C. Ross. William Bouguereau: Catalogue Raisonne of his Painted Work. Woodbridge, N.J.: Antique Collectors' Club, 2010. Cat. no. 1895/23, pl. 223, reproduced p. 307.

Paul, Tanya, et al. Bouguereau & America. Exh. Cat. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2019; p. 163, reproduced plate 38.

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