Simon Vouet was the royal painter to King Louis XIII, and although his preparatory drawings have long been prized by collectors, his portrait drawings are rare, with a group of them coming to the market only in the last ten years. Depicting an as-yet-unidentified woman at the French court, this beautifully preserved example demonstrates Vouet's subtle, sophisticated use of mixed colored chalks, in which he combines the French tradition of portraiture seen in the work of François Clouet with lessons learned from Ottavio Leoni and others during Vouet's long sojourn in Italy.
Portrait of a Woman with Pearl Earrings
Black, red and white chalk, with blending on paper.
10 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches (270 x 217 mm); Secondary support, decorative mount: 14 3/8 x 12 1/4 inches (365 x 311 mm)
Purchased on the Fairfax Murray Society Fund.
One of a group of portrait drawings recorded in the artist's estate, according to an inventory (inventaire après décès) drawn up upon Vouet's death, dated 3 July 1649: "no. 293: Item ung livre relié en veau doré ..., chargé des armes du Roy de France, dans lequel il y a soixante-quattre feuilles tant de portraits au pastel que autres choses dudit deffunt Vouet ..." and "no. 294: Item un autre livre dans lequel y a quinze testes de portraits designes par led. deffunt."; private collection, France, by descent in the family until 2008; Galerie de Bayser, Paris; W. M. Brady & Co., New York; Private collection, Boston, 2010 until present.