Oil on canvas; 16 by 12 in; 40.5 x 30.5 cm; held in period carved and gilded frame
Provenance: Private Collection, England
This charming portrait study is taken from a three-quarter length portrait of Louise Francoise de Bourbon completed by François de Troy around 1690 and currently in the collections at Versailles. At this time de Troy became the principal painter to the court of King James II in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and later in 1698 was appointed a Professor and later Director of the Academie Royale. His influence was broad in artistic circles emphasized by his abilities as an engraver which circulated his portrait work even more widely. This intimate portrait would have been produced probably for a friend or member of court.
Louise Françoise de Bourbon was the eldest surviving legitimised daughter of Louis XIV of France and his mistress, Madame de Montespan. She was said to have been named after her godmother, Louise de La Vallière, the woman that her mother had replaced as the king’s mistress. Originally known at court as Mademoiselle de Nantes, after her marriage at the age of eleven she became known as Madame la Duchesse, a style which she kept as a widow. She was also Duchess of Bourbon and Princess of Condé. In the hope of ingratiating herself with the new king she later became a leading member of the cabale de Meudon, a group of people who centered on Louis, le Grand Dauphin her older half brother. Whilst her son, Louis Henri, Duke of Bourbon was Prime Minister of France she tried to further her political influence but to little avail.
Very attractive, she had a turbulent love life and was frequently part of scandal during the reign of her father Louis XIV. Later in life, she built the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the present seat of the National Assembly of France, with the fortune she amassed having invested greatly in the Système de Law.