A Portrait of Auguste Vestris, half length, wearing a grey coat and a fur hat
Adèle Romany, French, A Portrait of Auguste Vestris, half length, wearing a grey coat and a fur hat, 1793, Oil on canvas; 95.2 x 77.5 cm (37 1/2 x 30 inches), Purchased with the Edith C. Erlenmeyer Bequest and the Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2009.9
The subject of this portrait, Auguste Vestris (1760–1842), was the son of King Louis XVI’s dancing master. He made his ballet debut at the age of twelve and soon usurped his father’s reputation as “the god of the dance.” This portrait celebrates the dancer’s slender form and catalogues his taste for fashionable dress. A close-fitting wool jacket, beaver-fur hat, voluminous cravat, silk waistcoat, golden earrings, bamboo walking stick, and yellow gloves complete the look of a “dandy.” The artist, Adèle Romany, trained in Paris in a segregated studio for women. She sent her first contribution to the Paris Salon in 1793, the year she painted Vestris, and over the course of a long career became known for her portraits of actors and musicians associated with the Comédie-Française. In this spirited representation of the dancer, she demonstrates skillful drawing and modeling, a refined sense of color, and a talent for lively characterization.