Louis-Léopold Boilly

Portrait of a Young Woman

c. 1800-1825
Such virtuoso feats of illusions are called “trompe-l’oeil, ” – “tricks the eye. ” Wittily, Boilly has painted on the marble top of a real table. A casually placed card gives Boilly’s Paris address, and a note names Mr. Pourtalès of Neuchâtel, the man who likely commissioned the painting. Swiss and French coins have been carefully laid out, as if counted; a quill pen set down; a miniature portrait of a man has been taken out from behind its glass for closer examination. The objects have been set aside, to be revisited later by their owner – a poignant thought.

– Label: “1379”

– Unidentified label

In auction of “Tableaux anciens”Hôtel Drouot, Paris, France, December 16, 1942 [1]

In auction of “Tableaux anciens” Palais Galliera, Paris, December 9, 1961, lot no.12 [2]

Galerie Cailleux (Paul Cailleux, 1884–1964), Paris, purchased at the Palais Galliera sale [3]

National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Galerie Cailleux [4]

[1] According to records from the service de documentation at the Louvre, the portrait was included in an anonymous sale at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, on December 16, 1942, as lot no. 45 and sold for 160 000 fr. [undated memorandum, NGC curatorial file].

[2] The picture was offered in an anonymous sale at the Palais Galliera on December 9, 1961. See note [3].

[3] Paul Cailleux's son Jean mentions that the portrait was acquired at auction in Paris, presumably the 1961 sale at Palais Galliera [letter to NGC research assistant Donna Isaac-Gelfrand, March 8, 1977, NGC curatorial file].

[4] The National Gallery of Canada purchased the painting from the Galerie Cailleux on October 17, 1962 [Accession log, NGC curatorial file].

Portrait of a Young Woman
c. 1800-1825
oil on canvas
21.7 x 16.5 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1962
Accession number