French, 1749 ‑ 1803
Portrait of Madame Adélaïde, about 1787
Oil on canvas
107 3/4 × 73 3/4 in. (273.7 × 187.3 cm.)
Gift of Mrs. Berry V. Stoll
Restored by income from the Marguerite Montgomery Baquie Memorial Trust, 1993, with additional
support from The National Endowment for the Arts 1982.21
Adélaïde of France (1732 – 1800) was the daughter of King Louis XV and the aunt of King Louis XVI. In the French royal family, she was ranked second only to Queen Marie Antoinette. In this formal portrait, she stands in a grand hall at the palace of Versailles, surrounded by objects that attest to her devotion, piety, and noble heritage. Holding a porte-crayon (an instrument designed to hold a stick of chalk), she is posed before a medallion on which she has depicted her late parents and brother. High on the wall, a relief sculpture commemorates her selfless visit to her father as he lay dying of smallpox, which she contracted. Architectural plans for a convent that she sponsored lay unfurled on the footstool behind her. In 1787, Labille-Guiard, who was Madame Adélaïde’s official court painter, painted the first version of this portrait which now hangs at Versailles. She then painted this second version and kept it in her possession throughout her life.