“To be, or not to be?”… (a Perronneau) is the question

Jean-Baptiste Perronneau - girl with a catThis is known as “Girl With a Cat” and has been attributed to being painted by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (1745). If you have not seen this before, it may be because you have not visited the National Gallery of London when it has been on display. Apparently it is not currently on display. Not a lot is known about him except for the following:

  • Jean-Baptiste Perronneau was born in Paris, France ca. 1715.  
  • He began his career as an engraver, studying with Laurent Cars, whose portrait he drew, and working for the entrepreneurial print-seller Gabriel Huquier, in the 1740s.
  • He was a pastel artist whose career was much in the shadow of the master of the French pastel portrait, Maurice Quentin de La Tour.
  • In the Salon of 1750, Perronneau exhibited his pastel portrait of Quentin de la Tour, but found to his dismay that La Tour was exhibiting his own self-portrait, perhaps a malicious confrontation to demonstrate his superiority in pastel technique.
  • He received full membership to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1753, with portraits of fellow artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry and the sculptor Lambert-Sigisbert Adam, (works of theirs can be found in the Louvre Museum).
  • From 1779 onwards he appeared to travel through France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Russia and eventually the U.K.
  • He died 230 years ago in  Herrengracht, Amsterdam at the age of 42 of fever in on 19th November, 1783.

However, there is a “twist” with this piece. –

According to the National Gallery website: they currently claim that: “Although [this painting] bears the artist’s signature and the date 1745, it has been thought to be a later imitation of Perronneau, because of some uncertainty in the treatment of the anatomy and an excess of charm associated with 18th-century French portraits of children. It may, however, be an original”.

Acceptance of its authenticity that it is a Perronneau, is at your own peril-you-know!

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