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Aman-Jean devoted the majority of her work to the subject of women, one of the main themes of Art Nouveau and Symbolism. This painting in the Petit Palais is one of the most successful examples of the atmospheric portraits which made him famous.

The identity of the model in the painting was revealed by the collector and generous donor Jules Maciet, who was a founder member of the Société des Amis du Louvre and the library of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and was the main patron of Aman-Jean, his cousin. When Jules Maciet donated this painting to the City of Paris - shortly after its exhibition at the Société Nationale des Beaux-arts (1907) - he told the Director of the Petit Palais, “For information for any future catalogues, the subject is Miss Ella Carmichael, an Englishwoman born in Natal who came to Lausanne to study French. She and Mrs Aman-Jean, my cousin, became friends and she came with her to spend a few weeks with me at Château-Thierry for two or three summers. That was where the portrait was painted.” (J. Maciet, handwritten letter to Henry Lapauze, Paris, 15 December 1908, in the Petit Palais archives).

Five portraits of Ella Carmichael, painted by Aman-Jean, have been counted, before she married an officer in the Indian army, and then remarried a Hungarian Prince after his death.

In the portrait the young woman is staring at an undefined point and posing in front of a wall covered with Art Nouveau style wallpaper. The inclusion of an 18th-century French engraving based on La Cascade by Watteau, adds a refined, bourgeois note to this interior. The dreamy expression on the young Englishwoman’s face and the placid presence of the house dog creates an impression of mild languor.

I.C.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The online catalogue of the Petit Palais collections includes around 35,000 notes and is added to regularly. Some notes have minimal information; others are more detailed. They are illustrated or they will be shortly.

Access the catalogue of the Petit Palais collections
Autre base documentaire

Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum's history.