Head of a Young Woman
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Adélaïde Labille-Guiard
French, 1779
Pastel on paper
21 1/2 x 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.

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