National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Family Portrait François-Hubert Drouais (artist)
French, 1727 - 1775
Family Portrait, 1756
oil on canvas
overall: 244 x 195 cm (96 1/16 x 76 3/4 in.) framed: 281.9 x 224.8 x 21 cm (111 x 88 1/2 x 8 1/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1946.7.4
On View
From the Tour: 18th-Century France — Boucher and Fragonard
Object 5 of 8

On the floor a box opened to reveal lace, pearls, and gaily striped silk, is painted on its lid with the legend "this first of April 1756." Probably the gifts, the girl's flowers, and the paper held by the man—a poem perhaps— are all poissons d'avril ("fish of april"), tokens named after the zodiac Pisces that were exchanged by family and intimate friends on April 1 to mark the beginning of spring.

Drouais studied with Boucher, and this painting is probably among his earliest commissions. The older artist had painted a number of similar domestic scenes of figures lit by a window opposite them. Drouais, however, increased the drama with a bright sky and billowing curtain. He painted with stronger contrasts of color than did Boucher and with meticulous realism seen, for example, in the lace at the man's cuff and throat.

The setting places these family members among the wealthy bourgeoisie, though their identities remain unknown. After exhibiting at the Salon of 1758, Drouais quickly became a favorite of Louis XV's last mistress, Madame du Barry, and attained great fame, especially with portraits of children and older women.

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