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Western art

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Madame Hilligsberg

circa 1790-1795


John Hoppner


1758 - 1810


Marie-Louise Hilligsberg (c1765/70?–1804) was a French dancer whose performances dazzled the London public in the last decade of the 18th century. She trained in Paris with the great dancer and choreographer Gaëtan Vestris and first came to London in 1787. She joined the King’s Theatre making her first appearance in Dec 1787 in Noverre’s ballet ‘Les offrandes à l’amour’. Hilligsberg was primarily associated with the King’s Theatre though she also performed at the Pantheon and occasionally at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. After the 1802–03 season she moved with her husband to France and began to style herself the comtesse de Beaumont. However, her retirement was brief. She died in January 1804 probably, it was thought, as a consequence of the ‘extreme exertion which she had invariably used in her profession’.



circa 1790-1795

Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


240.0 x 147.3 cm canvas; 249.5 x 172.5 x 10.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Kenneth Reed 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number


Artist information

John Hoppner

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Marie-Louise Hilligsberg, circa 1790-1804, Tours/France, Supposedly Madame Hilligsberg, comtesse de Beaumont, Tours (France), until her death in 1804

John Green, Evans’s Rooms, pre 22 Jul 1871, Covent Garden/London/England, Sold Christie's London 22 July 1871, no 194 (‘Hoppner, Mademoiselle Hilligsberg, Danseuse – whole length’)

Morris, post 22 Jul 1871, Purchased Christie's London 22 July 1871, 12½ gns

C Davis, pre 23 Apr 1892, Sold Christie’s, London, 23 Apr 1892, no 52 (‘Hoppner. Mlle Hilsburg’)

Charles William Dowdeswell, post 23 Apr 1892, London/England, Purchased Christie's London 23 Apr 1892, 165gns

Mrs Howard Smith, 1894, London/England, by 1894, lent to 'Fair women', Grafton Galleries, London, Summer 1894, no 85 (‘Mademoiselle Hillsberg. Danseuse, 1791’)

M. Knoedler and Co, New York, post 1894, New York/New York/United States of America

Harry Payne Whitney, pre 1930, New York/New York/United States of America, by descent to his son

Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, 1930-1952, New York/New York/United States of America, Given in 1952 to the North Carolina Museum of Art (acc no G.52.12.1)

North Carolina Museum of Art, 1952-16 Nov 1990, Raleigh/North Carolina/United States of America, Deaccessioned 1990. Sold Christie’s, London, 16 Nov 1990, no 15.

Robert Jones Fine Art Ltd, London, 1990, London/England, Purchased by Kenneth Reed 1990

Kenneth Reed, pre 2014, New South Wales/Australia, Gift of Kenneth Reed 2014. On loan to AGNSW 2010-14

Referenced in 11 publications


Christie's London, Catalogue of the well-known collection of dramatical, musical, and literary portraits, the property of Mr John Green, removed from Evans’s Rooms, Covent Garden ..., London, 22 Jul 1871, 18. no 194

Philip H Jr Highfill, Kalman A Burnim and Edward A Langhans, A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, managers & other stage personnel in London, 1660-1800, Carbondale, 1973-1993, vol 7, 1982: 322.

William McKay and W Roberts, John Hoppner, RA, London, 1909-1914, vol 1, 1909: 121.

North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Art catalogue of paintings, Raleigh, 1969, vol 2, British paintings to 1900: 36, illus opp 36. no 82

William Sharp, Fair women in painting and poetry, London, 1894, 59, (illus) opp p 59.

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, ‘“New” old masters: an enriching gift for the Gallery’s collection’, pg. 18–19, Sydney, Nov 2010, 19 (colour illus.).

WR Valentiner, Catalogue of paintings, Raleigh, 1956, 57 (illus.). no 88, pl 88

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily Telegraph, ‘Minor exhibitions’, pg.8, London, 21 Dec 1894, 8.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Sunday Times, ‘Art and artists’, pg.5, London, 16 Dec 1894, 5.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Glasgow Herald, ‘Our London correspondence’, pg.7, Glasgow, 12 Dec 1894, 7.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Athenaeum, ‘Fine Art Gossip’, London, 29 Jul 1871, 152.