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Portrait of Demoiselle Françoise Theveneau. Daughter of a king's adviser, royal notary and prosecutor, she was born on November 1, 1748 in Arnay-le-Duc, Côte d'Or, Burgundy. She was the sister of Charles Theveneau de Morande (1741-1805), famous journalist of the sensationalist press, blackmailer and spy, imprisoned in the Bastille on the orders of Louis XV, and Lazare Jean Theveneau, king's secretary, captain of the navy and friend and secretary of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), the famous playwright, author among others of the Marriage of Figaro and the Barber of Seville. She lived her entire life in her hometown, never married and died on December 14, 1815, aged 67.


Françoise Theveneau is represented holding a book in her hands and a rose of the same colour as the ribbons that adorn the headdress that covers her wig. This oil on canvas portrait was painted in 1790. There is an inscription on the back of the canvas, in French: “Portrait of Miss Françoise Theveneau, born in Arnay le Duc on November 1, 1743 to Mr. Louis Theveneau notary and Dame Philiberte Belin”.

Pierre Jouffroy, French painter of portraits, religious and mythological scenes, was born in Strasbourg on March 10, 1718. Likely trained by his father, the painter Pierre-Claude Jouffroy, he excelled in the technique of reverse glass painting. He was also one of the rare French artists of the time to sign his works. He especially exercised his talents in Paris and at the court of the King of Poland in Lorraine, Stanislas Leszczynski.


While under his father’s tutelage, he signed his paintings “painted by the son of Jouffroy” on their reverse. In 1756, aged thirty-eight, he began signing with his own name, “P. Jouffroy”. Pierre Jouffroy did not just paint on canvas; he soon tackled the very difficult art of reverse glass painting. He probably was trained in this technique by Victor Vispré (born in 1727), a still life glass painter, active in Paris in the years 1755-1760 and who exhibited in London at the same time as him. After painting the portrait of Queen Marie Leszczynska in 1759, he was commissioned several more portraits as well as works inspired by mythology such as this "Apollo and Issé", painted in 1760. From 1765 to 1767, Jouffroy successfully exhibited three reverse glass paintings in London. However, the death of King Stanislaus in 1766 seems to have made the artist lose interest in reverse glass painting and the public’s interest in this art form also seemed to decline. Jouffroy resumed the production of oil on canvas paintings, mainly portraits.


During the French Revolution and in the last years of his life, Jouffroy settled in Autun in central France, where he produced portraits of prominent figures and wealthy bourgeois in the region. He died on January 9, 1796, in Autun, at the age of seventy-eight.


Currently, about fifty works painted by Pierre Jouffroy are positively identified, some are attributed to him, others are only documented and not all of them have been found. They are mostly portraits. About thirty paintings under glass testifying to the artist's perfect mastery have also been identified, but not all have been found.


Sources: Benezit, Dictionary of Artists; Art Lorrain; Mme. Jeannine Geyssan :  L'Objet d'Art » n° 494 d'octobre 2013.

Pierre Jouffroy (French, 1718-1796) 'Portrait of Françoise Theveneau' circa 1790

  • Additional Information

    Artist: Pierre Jouffroy (1718-1796).
    Signed and dated on lower right.
    Medium: Oil on canvas.
    Condition: Very good, recently cleaned. 
    Dimensions: 64 x 53 cm. / 25 ¼ x 20 ¾ in.
    Frame: 70 x 59 cm. / 27 ½ x 23 ¼ in. Original gilt wood, restored. 
    Origin: France.

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