Jean-Jacques-Francois Le Barbier

1738 – 1826

A Portrait of a Young Lady, wearing a Grey Dress with a White Ruff Collar


Oil on Canvas




40.5(h) x 32.3(w) cms


Signed and Dated lower left: 'Le Barbier l'ainé./ 1820'


Le Barbier was born in Rouen and began his artistic career in that city. He was soon to move to Paris and entered the Ecole de L'Academie Royale in Paris as the pupil of Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre where he was to execute alegorical subjects and portraits.

For several years Le Barbier travelled in Switzerland drawing the most pictureque sites for the 'Tableaux de la Suisse' by Baron de Zurlauben (1720 - 1799), one of the most complete and beautiful books on Switzerland ever produced. From here Le Barbier moved to Rome.

Elected to the Adademie des Beaux Arts on 20th July 1780 Le Barbier became an Academician in 1785. He was to exhibit at the Paris Salon from 1781 until 1799 and recieved a first prize medal in 1808. His style became increasingly Neoclassical in the manner of Jacques-Louis David which suited his Republican sympathies. Indeed, Le Barbier was an active participant in the Revolution and was chosen, along with David, to assist in the 'regeneration' of the Adademie Royale.

Le Barbier was a prolific illustrator and worked on publishing projects throughout his life including illustrations for the works of Ovid, Racine, Rousseau and Delille.

This portrait was painted towards the end of Le Barbier's long life when the artist was around 82 years old.

Fashion in France and the rest of Europe was still characterised by a simplicity derived from Neoclassical aesthetics so beloved of the French Republic. During the 1820s this style would become more lavish as Romanticism and a love of the Gothic began to pervade society. On the one hand, our sitter enjoys a refined simplicity with her cotton mauve dress, but her elegant lace collar harks back to the romantic 16th and 17th centuries, a marked difference to the uncovered necks and shoulders of the Empire.

The young sitter's coiled hair with centre-parted ringlets was the height of fashion and can be spied in many portraits of fashionable English and French ladies during the first decades of the 19th century.


Private collection, UK.