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Madame Récamier

Madame Récamier, Jacques-Louis David

This is a portrait of one of the most famous women of the time: Juliette Récamier. We see her gracefully reclined with her head turned towards the observer, wearing a white dress in the purest style of antiquity. If you look closely at the room it is empty, except for the sofa, stool and the candelabra of a Pompey style. She is observed from a distance, which makes her face quite small. More than a portrait of a person, the painting represents an ideal of feminine elegance.

Madame Récamier at the time of the painting was only 23 years old and was already the most famous woman of her time. She was the daughter of a notary and symbolized the social ascension of the new post-revolutionary elite. Her husband had become one of the main bankers of Napoleon. In his mansion, many people of the time were going to have fun, especially writers like Chateaubriand who succumbed to the charms of Madame.

This work was extremely avant-garde for the 1800s. More than a portrait, it is an ode to the femininity and elegance of that woman of the time. The painting was never finished and the reason is not known, but it allows us to observe David's painting technique, particularly in the colors used for the backgrounds, before being filled with other images.