A large three-quarter length portrait depicting a young society beauty at the turn of the 19th century by the eminent French Royal Academy and Paris Salon painter Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (1845-1902). ‘Madeleine’ is signed by the artist, and also titled and dated 1901.
In the final quarter of the 19th century Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant was one of the world’s leading painters of Orientalist scenes and society portraits – the favourite artist of the English aristocracy – whose patrons included Queen Victoria and the Pope. North American tycoons queued-up with patriarchs of the English nobility to commission portraits of their wives and daughters.
Today, the rich and famous dream of being photographed by Mario Testino or Annie Leibovitz, back in 1900 they wanted to be painted by Benjamin-Constant, and his society portraits brilliantly convey the individual personality of the sitter.
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1896, made a commander of the Legion d’Honneur, and with Jean-Léon Gérôme foundered the Société des Peintres Orientalistes Français. Paintings by Benjamin-Constant are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg