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Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne (Portrait d’une jeune femme accoudée à une méridienne) 1828 (detail)
Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne (Portrait d’une jeune femme accoudée à une méridienne) 1828 (detail)
Help us acquire this portrait for the Art Gallery’s collection and come face to face with history

We invite you to support the purchase of Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent’s Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne 1828 for the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ collection.  

Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent, née Mauduit (1784–1862), was a successful history painter and portraitist who exhibited at the Salon and ran a painting studio for women in Paris during the 1820s. This tenderly observed painting bridges a gap in the Art Gallery’s collection of 18th- and 19th-century portraiture and enhances the collection of works by women artists. 

One of the most important contributions our members make is by helping to acquire artworks for the Art Gallery’s collection. Over the past 69 years the donations of members has supported the acquisition of more than 240 works of art.

When you make a tax-deductible donation of $200 or more your generous support will be acknowledged through our Collection Circle program including special events such as artwork unveilings and curated tours.

Help us acquire Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent’s Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne 1828 for the Art Gallery’s collection

The work shows an unidentified young woman of French high society, leaning casually, arms crossed, on the side support of a beige velvet méridienne – a sofa typical of the Empire period. On the furniture is thrown a bright, blue-coloured Indian cashmere shawl with a woven pattern down the sides and a deep border depicting the popular (and then incorrectly known) ‘Paisley’ design. Rare and sought after, shawls were made from expensive materials.

The sitter wears a typical neo-classical dress, in fine cotton, fastened under the bust, with short, semi-transparent muslin sleeves and a plain, low neckline. The simplicity of the dress spoke of Greek heroic times and classical virtues, while the blue colour of the shawl and silk belt served to heighten the whiteness of the dress and the lady’s glowing complexion.

Hersent convincingly rendered the varying textures of fabric and flesh to create a smooth surface with little visible brushwork. This skilful depiction along with the stylised contours of the sitter’s body, her elongated fingers and extravagant curled hairstyle arranged in the ultra-fashionable Apollo knot are all reminiscent of Ingres’ dazzling style. And like Ingres in his best portraits, Hersent depicted this elegant ‘woman of the world’ with a remarkable sensitivity and empathy, brilliantly capturing her elusive and singular personality.
Anne Gérard-Austin, curator of international art

Your donation will support the acquisition of this significant work for future generations and our community.

Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne (Portrait d’une jeune femme accoudée à une méridienne) 1828
Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent Portrait of a young woman leaning on a meridienne (Portrait d’une jeune femme accoudée à une méridienne) 1828
  • More about Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent

    Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent, née Mauduit, was born in Paris in 1784, the daughter of geometry teacher and architect Antoine-René Mauduit (1731–1815). She studied with two famous neo-classical painters, learning how to paint historical and mythological scenes, firstly with Guillaume Léthière (1760–1832), and then with Charles Meynier (1763–1832), quickly becoming his best-known pupil. She regularly exhibited genre and history paintings as well as portraits at the Salons from 1810 to 1824 and was awarded a 1st class medal at the 1819 Salon. 

    In 1821, Louise Mauduit married the painter Louis Hersent (1784–1862), a disciple of Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825). In 1822, the couple purchased a large studio in 22 rue Cassette, in the centre of Paris, where Louise opened a painting studio for women artists. At the end of the 18th century, a small number of workshops that welcomed women artists who were not born into artistic families began to open. In subsequent years, increasing numbers of women, including Louise Hersent, Pauline Auzou and Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot, opened dedicated studios. Such studios acted as spaces of transmission where women were taught technical and professional skills, but also where they could share their experiences and refine their strategies to distinguish themselves in the artistic context of the time. In certain studios, women were even taught the same curriculum (including the nude and history painting) as their male counterparts.

    Louise Hersent achieved great success as history painter (ranked as the top of the hierarchy of genres by the Académie des Beaux-Arts). Under the Bourbon Restoration (1814–30), Paris offered history painters impressive possibilities for state patronage. Several paintings Hersent exhibited at the Salon were immediately purchased by the Royal Administration. Concurrent with her success as an official history painter, Hersent maintained an important practice as a portraitist, and her portraits were praised by a number of Salon critics. In 1824, writer and critic August Jal recalled Hersent “as a portraitist, under the name of Miss Mauduit, who, in the arts, has already made a renowned name for herself […]  and deserves all our attention”.

Collection Circle donor program

You can play an important role in the Art Gallery’s growth, by contributing to the Collection Circle program with a tax-deductible donation of $200 or more in addition to your annual membership fee.

As a contributor to the Collection Circle program, you’ll be invited to a range of special events to recognise your support of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Note: should we exceed the target for the purchase of the Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent work, any additional funds will be allocated through the Collection Circle program towards future acquisitions to build the Art Gallery’s collection.

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