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The Young Woman with White Shawl Gustave Doré


Gustave Doré Strasbourg 1832 – 1883 Paris

Date ca. 1870
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

128 x 95 cm (50 3/8 x 37 3/8 in.)

Inventory number 77.3.B
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view This artwork is not on display

Gustave Doré, known primarily for his illustrations of literary works, always considered himself as an artist in the widest sense. Extremely successful and prolific, he also developed his talents in the fields of painting, sculpture, and even furniture design. Wishing to establish himself as a painter, he exhibited monumental religious compositions at the Paris Salon, but also executed more intimate genre scenes and portraits, such as the one held in Budapest.
The work shows a beautiful, fashionable young woman sitting in a garden. Her slender, elegant figure is accentuated by the white shawl wrapped around her bust and the belt encircling her waist. The large, black skirt, adorned with lace, the feathered hat and the fine white gloves beautifully complement her garment. As if something had caught her attention while reading, she is looking in the distance, away from the viewer. Protected from the harsh summer light by a striped sunshade, she appears in the shadow against the fresh green backdrop. The contrast between the woman and her environment is so strong, however, that the model was probably depicted in the artist’s studio, not in the open.
This work is part of a group of canvases depicting the same lady in a similar pose, but on a larger scale. One of them, with the model turned to the left, is known only from a photograph kept at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris (Strasbourg 1983, 117). Another version appeared at an auction in 2015 (Portrait de jeune femme, Summer Americana and Decorative Arts Auction, Knotty Pine, West Swanzey, 27 July 2015, lot no. 150). Here, the fulllength figure, looking to the right, appears with two pug dogs at her feet; the elegance of her attire is further enhanced by the drapes of her long train.
New results suggest that the Budapest painting might have been a transitional work between the two other versions. X-Ray examinations carried out a few years ago revealed important modifications in the composition. The sunscreen was originally much lower, appearing right behind the figure. Most importantly, the images show that the modell originally looked in the opposite direction, her face turned to the left, as in the now lost version.

Anna Zsófia Kovács

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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