Online Symposium | Women and Religion in 18th-C France

Posted in conferences (to attend), online learning by Editor on June 2, 2022

After Magdeleine Horthemels, Burial of Nuns at the Abbey of Port-Royal-des-Champs (Musée de Port-Royal des Champs).

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From the conference website:

Women and Religion in Eighteenth-Century France: Ideas, Controversies, Representations
Online, Queen Mary, University of London, 24 June 2022

Organized by Marie Giraud and Cathleen Mair

From Catholics to Protestants, abbesses to lay sisters, or even artists and salonnières, religious women played an important role in the social, cultural, and political life of France during the eighteenth century. Drawing on new approaches and sources, this interdisciplinary symposium will consider the identities, controversies, ideas, experiences, and representations of religious women in the period. It will explore how women of faith navigated, adopted, challenged, or subverted the religious canon, cultural norms, and social conventions as the understanding of religion, politics, and power shifted rapidly throughout the eighteenth century.

The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Mita Choudhury (Vassar College), whose work on gender, sexuality, and the place of nuns within the larger political and intellectual world of pre-revolutionary France lays the groundwork for further studies of women religious in the period.

The symposium will take place online via Zoom and is free to attend. All times in BST. Please click here to register to attend. The Zoom link will be circulated with registered attendees 24 hours in advance. A PDF version of the programme is available to download here.

This event is generously supported by London Arts and Humanities Partnership and the Doctoral College Initiative Fund at Queen Mary University of London.


9.30  Welcome and Housekeeping
• Marie Giraud (QMUL) and Cathleen Mair (QMUL)

9.45  Panel 1 — Living Faith: Everyday Religion in Women’s Letters
Chair: Ben Jackson (Birmingham)
• Cormac Begadon (Durham University), Nuns and Their Confessors: Appeals, Emotions, and Gender in the English Convents
• Gemma Betros (Australian National University), Marie de Botidoux: Religion in the Life of a Young Woman in Late-Eighteenth-Century Paris

10.45  Panel 2 — Recovering Voices: Women Religious in Print Culture
Chair: Gemma Tidman (QMUL)
• Rebecca Short (University of Oxford), Posthumous Presence: Religious Authority in the Lettres à une illustre morte (1770)
• Sean Heath (Independent Scholar), Je ne suis qu’une femme: Madame de Lionne’s Intervention in the Chinese Rites Controversy, 1700–1705

11.45  Break

12.00  Panel 3 — Faith on Trial: Religious Sects and the State
Chair: Liesbeth Corens (QMUL)
• Sarah Barthélemy (Durham University / Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles), Gender, Catholicism, and Dissimulation: The Trial of Adélaïde Champion de Cicé
• Otto Selles (Calvin University), Prophétesses de Sion: Women and the Multipliant Sect (Montpellier, 1720–1723)

13.00  Lunch Break

14.00  Panel 4 — Contested Meanings: Women Religious and Revolutionary Politics
Chair: Ben James (KCL)
• Corinne Gressang (Erskine College), What Does Liberty Mean to a Nun?
• Richard Yoder (Pennsylvania State University), Jacqueline-Aimée Brohon: Victim-Soul and Revolutionary Prophet

15.00  Panel 5 — Representing Faith: Spaces and Objects of Devotion
Chair: Hannah Williams (QMUL)
• Killian Harrer (University of Munich), Wellsprings of Devotion: Marian Apparitions and Female Pilgrims in Revolutionary France
• Samuel Weber (EHESS), Handmaids of the Sacred Heart: Nuns’ Production of Paraphernalia and the Making of Sentimental Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century France

16.00  Break

16.15  Keynote Lecture
Chair: Miri Rubin (QMUL)
• Mita Choudhury (Vassar College), Reflecting on Gender, Religion, and the Historian’s Craft

Versailles Acquires Portrait of Catherine Duchemin

Posted in museums by Editor on June 2, 2022

Press release from château de Versailles, via Art Daily (28 May 2022). . .

Unidentified artist, Portrait of Catherine Duchemin, oil on canvas (Palace of Versailles Dist RMN, C. Fouin).

The Palace of Versailles has just acquired an oil on canvas painting of Catherine Duchemin (1630–1698, the first woman to be admitted as a painter to France’s Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture) in 1663. Acquiring this rare painting serves to further enrich Versailles’ collection of Académie artists’ portraits, which until now has featured men exclusively.

Catherine Duchemin was one of the rare few female painters working in 17th-century France and known to us today. She stands out from her fellow female artists in her achievement in being the first woman admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture on 14 April 1663 upon presenting a painting of flowers that prompted the academy to feel it was a “duty” and an “honour,” “in accordance with the King’s wishes […] to spread her grace among all those who excel in the arts of painting and sculpture […] without regard to differences between the sexes.”

Catherine Duchemin was born in 1630, the daughter of a Parisian painter and decorator who may well have taught her the basics of painting. At the age of 27 in 1657, she married the sculptor François Girardon. Despite a number of pioneering examples at the time, female artists were relatively rare in those days: it would take a further generation for their artistic careers to flourish in Paris. This first admission of a woman to the Académie was of paramount importance, serving as an event that would prompt change beyond Catherine Duchemin’s own life, as others followed in her footsteps up until the early 18th century.

The model’s steady gaze meets the viewer’s eyes as she readies herself to begin painting a bouquet of double-flowered anemones and poppies in a vase. The format of the canvas, the opulence of the armchair, and the elegance of the colourful, black ribbon-embellished clothing are all highly ambitious.

Although the painting is unsigned, cross-referencing it with portraits from the Palace of Versailles’ collection and notably those produced by Académie members may allow for this remarkably well-executed piece to be attributed to a named artist. Catherine Duchemin may have painted the floral composition herself, which would make this portrait the only remaining example of her work. Indeed, the artist “excelled at painting flowers” to the extent that “so real were they, you might almost smell them,” according to her first biographer, Florent Le Comte. The three flowers—one budding, the other in full bloom, and the third a poppy used to symbolise slumber—may be read as an allegory for life.

Once it has been restored, this portrait will fit seamlessly in with the exceptional collection of Académie member portraits that now hang in the Louis XIV rooms. These 17th-century artworks are invaluable testimonies to how the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture would once have worked: a key component in Louis XIV’s arts promotion policy.

At Christie’s | Hubert de Givenchy: Collectionneur

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 2, 2022

From the press release for the sales:

Hubert de Givenchy: Collectionneur
Christie’s, Paris, live: 14–17 June 2022, and online: 8–23 June 2022

Christie’s has announced details of the full 1229 lots in the Hubert de Givenchy: Collectionneur sale, which will be offered in auctions taking place live in Paris (Sale 21549 and Sale 20825) and online (Sale 21420) between 8 and 23 of June 2022. A passionate aesthete, deeply rooted in the culture of his country, Hubert de Givenchy (1927–2018) embodied a constant and successful quest for an ideal, that of classical beauty. The extraordinary variety and richness of works in these sales perfectly represent the world-renowned couturier’s deep passion for objects and impeccable good taste. The overall estimate for the collection is in the region of €50million.

Hubert de Givenchy’s bedroom at Hôtel d’Orrouer © François Halard. Christie’s Images Limited.

Christie’s will present selected highlights from the auctions as follows:


For Hubert de Givenchy, each object had a life of its own. For him, appreciation and engagement came not only from the beauty of the object, but also from its provenance, and the auctions are filled with such pieces of prestigious provenance. In the 1950s, the young couturier began his ‘second career’ as an art collector. From the collection of Coco Chanel, who invited him regularly for dinner, comes a superb Régence console (estimate €60,000–100,000), while from the collection of José-Maria and Misia Sert comes a rare Italian neoclassical console table, probably the work of Torinese craftsmen active at the court of Savoy (estimate €12,000–18,000). From the ‘Palais Murat’, the home of a very important collection visited by the royal families of the 19th century, comes a shaped porphyry potpourri vase, probably acquired by the King of Naples around 1780 (estimate €60,000–100,000). Of Imperial provenance are a pair of monumental girandoles attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire for Tsar Paul I of Russia (estimate €700,000–1,000,000). These sculptural pieces surrounded the access to the garden at his Paris home, the Hôtel d’Orrouer. In the same salon, any visitors’ eye was drawn to a set of Regency ormolu-mounted vases attributed to Vulliamy & Son delivered around 1807 to the 1st Earl of Harewood (estimate €100,000–150,000). Today, the name of Hubert de Givenchy is synonymous with a prestigious provenance, sought-after by the most discerning collectors.

Attributed to François Girardon, Bacchus, ca. 1700, estimate: €1.5–2.5million.


From fashion to decoration, Givenchy approached his projects as an architect, as did his mentor Cristóbal Balenciaga. Architecture embodies Givenchy’s ideal of balance, harmony, and majesty and is therefore omnipresent in many of the pieces included in the collection, as is the case with a superb baroque bronze censer from Augsburg (estimate €30,000–50,000) and a pair of late Louis XV candlesticks attributed to Pierre Gouthière (estimate €60,000–100,000). Architecture is also present in paintings, such as Hubert Robert’s The Pool in the Terms (estimate €12,000–15,000) and the Landscape with Obelisk and Colonnade (estimate €250,000–350,000). In Givenchy’s bedroom at Hôtel d’Orrouer, the neoclassical lines of the monumental desk by Roentgen are perfectly matched by those of a mechanical box by the same artist (estimate €8,000–12,000) and a Louis XVI commode by Pierre Garnier (estimate €200,000–400,000).

Seat Furniture

For Givenchy, “every object is the result of an encounter, of love at first sight” (2). Chairs—which are represented by more than 400 examples—occupy a very special place in the collection. Not hesitating to declare himself “madly in love” (1) with a Louis XVI fauteuil, Givenchy was also seduced by a pair of bergères stamped by Georges Jacob from the same period (estimate €15,000–25,000). Equally, he appreciated the lines of a pair of Régence armchairs, formerly from the collection of Lady Baillie at Leeds Castle (estimate €100,000–200,000). Often Givenchy reupholstered furniture with modern textiles such as a Louis XVI bergère by Nicolas-Quinibert Foliot with a designed textile by Georges Braque (estimate €6,000–10,000), transcending periods and styles. The sale also includes a number of more modern seat models from the 20th century, including Decour bergères from the grand salon of the Manoir du Jonchet (estimate €800–1,200).

Wild Life

Givenchy also liked to be surrounded by representations of animals. They were omnipresent and gave life and majesty to the interiors he designed. For example, The Gazelle by Jean-Marc Winckler watched over the guests in the dining room of Hôtel d’Orrouer (estimate €1,000–1,500). Givenchy had three deer heads added to the façade of the Jonchet in honour of his patron saint, and in 2011 he generously donated the casts that allowed the restoration of the Cour des Cerfs to the Château de Versailles. Posthumously, the large stag by François Pompon, was donated to the Château de Chambord, having originally decorated the grand salon at Manoir Jonchet. In the park of the Manoir du Jonchet, lived a splendid pair of bronze deer, executed in 1964 by Janine Janet, gifted as a present by Cristóbal Balenciaga (estimate €80,000–120,000 each). And approaching the house, visitors were greeted by François-Xavier Lalanne’s Oiseaux de jardin (estimate €400,000–600,000 each), while a 1973 turtle by the same artist slumbered in Givenchy’s bedroom (estimate €20,000–30,000). Furthermore, the park held five sculptures by Diego Giacometti (estimate €20,000–30,000 each) immortalising Bucky, Lippo, Sandy, and Assouan, Givenchy’s canine companions. Animals were also to be found at the Hôtel d’Orrouer, where a pair of 19th-century gilded copper Tibetan deer were placed on the mantel piece of the main salon (estimate €20,000–30,000).

Fine Arts

Givenchy’s eye was equally drawn to Domenico Piola’s monumental 1695 painting Alexander and the Family of Darius (estimate €80,000–120,000), Max Ernst’s luminous, tiny 1961 Untitled (Soleil) (estimate €50,000–70,000), and the elegant minimalism in Robert Courtright’s 1972 painting Untitled (estimate €10,000–15,000). In the collection, representations of the human figure abound, whether a pair of busts of emperors in the Antique style (estimate €250,000–350,000) or the portrait Grande tête de Katia by Henri Matisse (estimate €7,000–10,000). Keeping with the collector’s concept of architecture and fashion, fabric and clothing were important, as in the portrait of an Indian dignitary, luxuriously dressed in 17th-century Persian fashion (estimate €60,000–80,000).

The ‘Empire’ living room at Hôtel d’Orrouer in Paris © François Halard. Christie’s Images Limited.

Decorative Arts

Givenchy had always loved imposing furniture and especially large armoires and bookcases. The auction offers two superb armoires, the first dating from the Louis XIV period, made in the Boulle technique, with ebony marquetry, and the second a replica made by Michel Jamet at de Givenchy’s request to form a pair (estimate €50,000–100,000, the pair). Furthermore, the collection includes a splendid commode, attributed to Joseph Poitou (estimate €250,000–400,000) as well as an important selection of pieces by Diego Giacometti, a close friend, including a Console oiseau et coupelle from 1976 (estimate €400,000–600,000). Collectors will also be able to acquire an imposing contemporary travertine and granite dining table (estimate €8,000–12,000), which comes from the Manoir du Jonchet.

Givenchy and the Colour Green

A leitmotif of the interiors created by Givenchy, the colour green is undoubtedly not foreign to the feeling of serenity and calm evoked by all visitors entering Hôtel d’Orrouer or the Manoir du Jonchet. Green is omnipresent in the collection, and the salon on the second floor of the Hôtel d’Orrouer is named in its honour. A natural sponge, painted in green by Charles Sevigny (estimate €2,000–3,000) is a nod to another great master of the art mixing modern and classical works, Charles Sevigny. He decorated Givenchy’s first apartment, in addition to those of the Empress of Iran and Bunny Mellon.

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Note (added 27 June 2022)— A press release (via Art Daily) reports on the results of the auctions. “Total: €118,116,172 / $123,694,746 / £101,932,654 – doubling the low pre-sale estimate.”


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