Nicolas de Largillière
French, 1656 – 1746
Portrait of Marie-Anne de Châteauneuf, called Madamoiselle Duclos (1670 – 1748), in the Role of Ariadne, about 1712
Oil on canvas
64 1/4 × 51 1/2 in. (163.2 × 130.8 cm.)
77 3/4 × 65 3/8 × 4 1/8 in. (197.5 × 166.1 × 10.5 cm.) (frame)
Museum purchase, Mrs. Blakemore Wheeler Fund
Conservation funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency  1966.15

A French “It Girl”
Mademoiselle Duclos was one of the most famous actresses of the Comédie Française in Paris. She made her debut on the stage in 1693 and retired in 1746, after playing dozens of roles in tragic dramas. For her portrait, she chose to depict herself in the title role from the play Ariadne by Thomas Corneille (1625 – 1709), one of her very first starring performances. Reviews from the time mention her exaggerated mannerisms and the grandiose delivery of her lines. By many accounts, Mademoiselle Duclos had a temperament to match her performance style. The writer and philosopher Voltaire (1694 – 1778) even published an unflattering poem about the actress and her love affairs. Knowing the context of her life as a celebrity, do you think the artist captured the actress’s personality? Do you think she was pleased with her likeness?