godsandheroes5The fifth in an image series highlighting the Portland Art Museum exhibition: Gods And Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Julie Duvidal de Montferrier (Countess, Madame Hugo) French, 1797-1865 Self-Portrait, (detail) c. 1820 | Oil on canvas Julie Duvidal de Montferrier portrays herself as a modern-day Mona Lisa in a turban and shawl, exotic fashions popularized in the wake of Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt and Syria. Many women artists of the period specialized in portraiture, often bringing greater sensitivity than their male counterparts to the expression of character. Excluded as a woman from the École, the artist became a private pupil of Baron François Gerard (1770-1837), and her history paintings and portraits were shown at the Salon from 1819 to 1827. She married the elder brother of the great Romantic writer Victor Hugo who, though he celebrated her in an ode, denounced her loose lifestyle. (Excerpt from Portland Art Museum exhibition description)

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