Head of a Young Woman

Object Details


Head of a Young Woman


Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (French, 1749 - 1803)






Pastel on paper


54.6 × 44.5 cm (21 1/2 × 17 1/2 in.)

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A young woman, reclining on a pillow, turns toward a presumed visitor; her wide-eyed gaze, one of delight and anticipation. As she turns, her white gown falls away, revealing her upper torso. A soft light bathes her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes and also highlights the glossy sheen of her hair cascading down her left shoulder.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard used the delicacy of the pastel medium to capture the sitter's eroticism. Rather than depicting a specific individual, Labille-Guiard created this imaginary portrait to convey a moment of sensual awakening. This type of fanciful portrait became popular in France in the mid-1700s.

- 1883

Private Collection [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Chevallier, Paris, December 15, 1883.]

- 1898

Paul Eudel, 1837 - 1912 (Paris, France) [sold, Eudel sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 9-12, 1898, lot 18.]

by 1901 -

Mme. Albert Laniel (Paris, France), by inheritance to Joseph Laniel.

by 1973 -

Joseph Laniel (Paris, France)


Private Collection

- 1996

Wildenstein & Co. (New York) (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.


Hôtel Drouot (Paul Chevalier, commissaire-priseur), Paris. Catalogue des tableaux anciens, beaux portraits de l'école française du XVIIIe siècle...très beau pastel par Mme Labille Guiard, quatre beaux panneaux décoratifs par Coypel. December 15, 1883, p. 13, lot 21.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux, pastels, aquarelles, dessins anciens et modernes...composant la collection de M. Paul Eudel. May 12, 1898, p. 13, lot 18, ill.

Portalis, Roger. "Adelaïde Labille-Guiard (1749-1803)." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (November 1901-April 1902), part 1 (November 1901), pp. 361-62, ill.

Portalis, Roger. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749-1803), repr. (Paris: Imprimerie Georges Petit, 1902), pp. 13, 14, ill.

Passez, Anne Marie. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1749-1803: Biographie et catalogue raisonné de son oeuvre (Paris: Arts et Métiers Graphiques, 1973), pp. 52, 74-75, 76, 240, no. 13, ill.

Baillio, Joseph. Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun, 1755-1842, exh. Cat. (Fort Worth: Kimball Art Museum, 1982), p. 65.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 68, ill.

Dictionnaire des femmes de l'ancien régime, s.v. "Adélaïde Labille" (by Laura Auricchio), http://siefar.org/dictionnaire/fr (accessed September 2, 2010).

Jeffares, Neil, s.v. "Labille-Guiard, Adélaïde." In Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800 (London: Unicorn Press, 2006), p. 273, ill.

Auricchio, Laura. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009), pp. 19-23, 33-34, fig. 9, ill.

Jeffares, Neil. "Leading the Revolution." Apollo 172, no. 582 (December 2010), p. 90, ill.

Jeffares, Neil, s.v. "Labille-Guiard, Adélaïde." In Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800, http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/LabilleGuiard.pdf (accessed November 12, 2015; pdf dated September 20, 2015), p. 8, ill.