Published: February 11, 2020
NEW YORK CITY — A late Eighteenth Century portrait of Napoleon I’s younger sister, titled “Madame Leclerc, nee Pauline Bonaparte,” went well above expectations when it brought $387,000 on a $70,000 estimate at Doyle’s February 5 sale of English and Continental Furniture / Old Masters.
The result established an artist auction record for the painter, Marie-Victoire Lemoine (French, 1754-1820). The oil-on-canvas painting measures 77 by 54-1/8 inches.
The painting had been anonymously submitted to the Paris Salon of 1799, where it was described as “Une jeune femme appuyee sur le bord d’une croisee” (A Young Woman Leaning on the Edge of a Window).
Doyle said the work dates to 1798-1799, following Pauline Bonaparte’s marriage to French general Charles Leclerc in 1797. This image of her was probably painted the following year, not long after the birth of her son. Leclerc would die in 1802 after contracting yellow fever on a military expedition in Haiti.
From the estate of the sitter, the work was apparently passed to her oldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte, Comte de Survilliers. Napoleon I made Joseph the King of Naples and Sicily (1806-08, as Giuseppe I), and King of Spain (1808-13, as José I). It descended in various collections thereafter.
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