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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Madame Brion, Seated, Taking Tea

Photo: Paul Macapia

Madame Brion, Seated, Taking Tea


Jacques-André-Joseph Aved

French, 1702 - 1766

In this painting by Flemish artist Jacques-André-Joseph Aved, a comfortable bourgeoise greets us from the comfort of her home, surrounded by decorative objects that the painter-collector loves as much as she does.
Oil on canvas
50 5/8 x 38 1/8 in. (128.6 x 96.8 cm)
Frederick Pipes Estate Fund, General Acquisition Fund, Mary Arrington Small Estate, and Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, by exchange
Provenance: Collection of Désiré-Paul-André Marie (also Paul André, 1897-1974), Paris and Barentin, France, by 1935-until 1974-75 (his death); Me. Philippe Fournier, sale of "Collection André Marie et a divers amateurs: Sculptures; Objects d'Art; Meubles et Sieges; Tapisseries; Tapis," lot 154, Rouen, France, November 4, 1975; Private collection, New York, by 1983 until 1986; [Gerard Stora, Wildenstein and Company, Inc., New York, 1987]; purchased by the Seattle Art Museum (funds from the Frederick Pipes Estate Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Mary Arrington Small Estate, and Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, by exchange), September 14, 1987
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view

Influence of Dutch Seventeenth-Century Painting

Photo: Paul Macapia
The Duet, ca, 1629, Jane Miense Molenaer, 61.162
Aved was trained in Amsterdam and had an appreciation for Dutch painting, judging from the inventory of his art collection. He owned works by seventeenth-century artists Rembrandt, Gerrit Dou and Adrien van Ostade, among others, and seems to have been influenced by the overlap of portraiture and genre painting in their work. This painting from the Seattle Art Museum collection, which shows an unidentified couple interrupted in their music-making, shares an immediacy and frankness with the portrait of Madame Brion.
Photo: Frederic Jaulmes
Portrait of Madame Crozat, 1741, Jacques-André-Joseph Aved
The quality of a momentary interruption, coupled with a palpable sense of light, is evident in Aved's most celebrated painting, of Madame Crozat.
Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, ca. 1662, Johannes Vermeer
These qualities can be compared with Dutch seventeenth-century paintings; for example works by Vermeer.
Photo: Frederic Jaulmes
The Lacemaker, 1680, Frans van Mieris the Elder
Comparisons can also be made with works by Frans Mieris the Elder.

What Is She Drinking?

When the painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1750, it bore the title Madame Brion Seated, Taking Tea. That seems innocent enough, but the rise of fashionable beverages such as coffee, tea and chocolate in the eighteenth century spawned serving and drinking vessels particular to each drink. The bowl and saucer shown in this painting are too big for tea and instead would have been used for coffee. The silver marabout was also used for coffee. We do not know why the painting was exhibited with an inaccurate description.
Detail of cup and saucer, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia

Comparison with Contemporary French Portraiture

Portrait of Madame Bouret as Diana, 1745, Jean-Marc Nattier
Compared to other French portraits at the time, this painting, and Aved's approach in general, are remarkably informal and relaxed--as though Madame Brion isn't posing at all but mildly surprised by visitors during her afternoon tea break.

Some artists, like Jean-Marc Nattier, portrayed women in the guise of goddesses.
Madame de Pompadour, 1756, François Boucher
Aved's painting of Madame Brion also lacks the sumptuous but untouchable Grand Manner reserved for members of the court by François Boucher.

An Open Invitation

We know nothing about Madame Brion except her last name, which was recorded when the painting was exhibited at the 1750 Salon under the title Madame Brion, Seated, Taking Tea. All other conclusions about the unknown woman are reached through close study of the painting-her warm, open expression and the various objects displayed in her comfortable home.
Detail, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia

What Do My Things Reveal About Me?

Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting Chinese blanc de chine cup in the form of a rhinoceros horn, a fashionable import, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting Kangxi (Chinese, 1662-1722) covered porcelain jar, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting wall sconce (partly visible), bras de lumière, with lacquered foliage and porcelain flowers, made in Vincennes, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting silver marabout, coffee, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting coffee bowl and saucer, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting lace, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting tapestry or needlepoint covering chair, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting green damask wall covering, 87.99
Photo: Paul Macapia
Detail highlighting red cloth, 87.99


Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Seattle Art Museum; Julie Emerson, Former Ruth J. Nutt Curator of Decorative Arts, Seattle Art Museum; and Andy Schultz, Associate Professor of Art History, Pennsylvania State University, talk about Madame Brion


Exhibition HistoryParis, France, Salon, 1750 (as "Le Portrait de Madame Brion, assise, prenant du Thé"). Cat. no. 79.

Atlanta, Georgia, High Museum of Art, The Rococo Age: French Masterpieces of the Eighteenth Century, Oct. 15-Dec. 31, 1959.

London, U.K., Wildenstein, French Portraits: XVII-XX Century, June 16-July 30, 1982.

New York, Rosenberg and Stiebel, Chez Elle, Chez Lui: At Home in 18th Century France, Apr. 23-June 13, 1987. Reproduced p. 31, fig. 13, pp. 30-32.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe, Feb. 17 - May 7, 2000.
Published ReferencesWildenstein, Georges. Le Peintre Aved: sa vie et son oeuvre, 1702-1766. Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, Edition d'Études et de Documents, 1922, p. 31. Not illustrated.

Wildenstein, Georges. "Le Peintre Aved, premier supplement à la biographie et au catalogue (1922-1935)." Gazette des Beaux-Arts. Sixieme per. XIII, March 1935, p. 162, no. 17, reproduced p. 260, fig. 1. (As Collection of Paul André)

Rouen, Palais des Consuls. Collection André Marie et à divers amateurs. November 5, 1975, ill. lot 154.

Verdi, Richard. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: London, Summer Exhibitions." Burlington Magazine CXXIV, No. 953 (August 1982): p. 518, fig. 35, illus. p. 520

Zafran, Eric M. The Rococo Age: French Masterpieces of the Eighteenth Century. Exhibition catalogue, High Museum of Art. Atlanta, Georgia, 1983, p. 86, plate 30. (As Private Collection, New York)

Baillio, J. "French Rococo Painting: a Notable Exhibition in Atlanta." Apollo CXIX, No. 253 (January 1984): 18, ill. p. 23, fig. 14.

Morton, Marcia and Frederic. Chocolate: An Illustrated History. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1986, pp. 42-43, ill. p. 42. (As Private Collection)

Rosenberg and Steibel. Chez Elle, Chez Lui: At Home in 18th Century France. Exhibition catalogue, Rosenberg and Steibel, New York, 1987, pp. 30-32. Ill. p. 31, fig. 13.

Seattle Art Museum (October 28, 1987). "Seattle Art Museum Unveils Old Master Painting." Press Release. Not illustrated.

Seattle Art Museum. (November 2, 1987). "Background Sheet." Press Release. Not illustrated.

Ament, Deloris Tarzan. "Seattle Art Museum hangs up a 'master.'" Seattle Times, November 2, 1987, ill. F2.

Gates, Jay. Seattle Art Museum. Members' News, November 1987-January 1988. Illustrated.

Emerson, Julie. "Coffee, Tea and Chocolate Wares in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, no. 1, p. 13

"Selected Works." Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 98

O'Donnell, Susannah Cassedy. "Ecocity's Caffeine Charm." Museum News 73, No. 1 (January/February 1994): 34. Not illustrated.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. "The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum" Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, 1997, fig. 7, pp. 20-21

Emerson, Julie, Jennifer Chen, & Mimi Gardner Gates. "Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe", Exhibition catalogue, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2000, pp. 192-193, ill. p. 192

Harding, Beverly. The Secret of Porcelain: A Family Guide. Seattle, Wash.: Seattle Art Museum, 2000; pp. 14, 28.

Collins, Jeffrey, review. "Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe," in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1, Poetry and Poetics (Fall 2000), Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 116-120. 119

Sánchez, Pierre. Dictionnaire des Artistes Exposant dans les Salons des XVII et XVIIIeme Siècles à Paris et en Province: 1673-1800 1 A-Dul. Dijon: L'Échelle de Jacob, 2004, p. 105-107. Not illustrated.

"Chinese Porcelain an Export to the World", Joint Publishing Company, (H.K.) Co. Ltd., 2008, pg 106

Conseil des Musées Nationaux. La Revue des Musées de France: Revue du Louvre (June 3, 2008): no. 6, p. 64.

Ganse, Shirley. Chinese Porcelain: an Export to the World. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing Company, (H.K.) Co. Ltd., 2008, ill. p. 106.

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