Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Angélique-Louise Verrier and the Paris Salon of 1802

Angélique-Louise Verrier (born 25 October 1762)

Until recently, so little was known about the painter Angélique-Louise Verrier that the few printed references to her, as "Mademoiselle Verrier," were often considered to be misspelled references to a similarly elusive French painter, Marie-Nicole Vestier.

Not that Verrier was completely unknown.  As Germaine Greer notes in The Obstacle Race, "A Mademoiselle Verrier who exhibited work in 1786 became Madame Maillard, but of her career as a painter we know nothing more."

Greer published The Obstacle Race in 1979. Now, some forty years later, a bit more is known--the most accessible source of information about Verrier is found in Neil Jeffares's Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800

According to Jeffares, Verrier was born on 25 October 1762 in Paris, in the parish of Saint-Eustache. She exhibited a pastel portrait in the 1785 Salon de la Jeunesse, an exhibition of student work.* (She would have been about twenty-three years old.) 

Issue of the Mercure de France containing
the reference to Verrier's work in the
Salon de la Jeunesse**
According to a description of Verrier's work published in the Mercure de France, a newspaper and cultural journal, the portrait was of a woman wearing a straw hat. The writer describes the "tone of the color" in Verrier's work as "very good" and the drawing as "sensible and correct" ("Le ton de couleur m'en a paru fort bon; le dessin en est sage & correct"). The writer offered one bit of hesitation--the portrait seemed a bit cold--but then suggested that perhaps that was the fault of the model ("peut être est la faut de la modèle") rather than of the artist. In another contemporary review of this 1785 work, its color is described as "fresh and harmonious."

Verrier submitted another work to the 1786 Salon de la Jeunesse, though the medium is not identified. It too drew critical attention. The Mercure notes that her talents progress "each year," developing in "a very interesting manner." In this 1786 reference, Verrier is identified as one of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard's students.

One other portrait by Verrier is listed by Jeffares, a pastel of Louis-Charles, the younger son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette--the portrait is dated to 1789, the same year Louis-Charles became dauphin just after his older brother's death. If the French Revolution had not intervened, he would have become Louis XVII.

At some point, Verrier married Louis Maillard--their son, Louis-Auguste-Jean-Baptiste, was baptized on 27 July 1799, when Verrier would have been in her late thirties. Louis Maillard had died by 1801--an inventory after his death, requested by his wife, was made on 16 October of that year. 

Angélique-Louise Verrier exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1802 although, aside from mentioning this, Jeffares includes no further details. A Google search also fails to turn up any more information. But the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (which has provided many incredible resources as I've been posting on this blog) makes available all of the livret of the Paris Salons. 

According to the 1802 catalog, Madame Verrier-Maillard's exhibited work was a full portrait of "Mme. ***" and her son,” who is presenting to her his "verses on peace, which have won a prize" ("à qui son fils présente des vers sur la Paix, qui ont remporté prix"). In the catalog, Verrier is still being identified as a student of "Madame Vincent," Labille-Guillard's married name. 

Angélique-Louise Verrier-Maillard died in Paris on 29 July 1805.

I haven't been able to find any reproductions of her work . . . 

*In her essay on female self-portraits in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Marie-Jo Bonnet says of the Salon de la Jeunesse that it was "réservé aux élèves, qui dure une journée et se tient en plein air le jour de la Fête-Dieu, place Dauphine à Paris." ("reserved for students and which takes place in the open air on Corpus Christi Day at the Place Dauphine, Paris").

**Digitized copies of the Mercure de France are available via Le gazetier universel: Resources numériques sur la presse ancienne, which you can access by clicking here.

Update, 10 October 2019: In comments below, reader "Silverwhistle" adds not only information about an additional work attributed to Angélique-Louise Verrier-Maillard but--if you follow the link to recommended site, Nothing Gold Remains--you will be able to see a pastel image of one of her works. The site also adds some additional biographical information about Verrier-Maillard.

If you have academic access to the journal Annales historiques de la Révolution française, Silverwhistle also provides a link. (Even if you don't have access, there's a bit more information there in the article abstract.)