Portrait of Desirée Manfred (The Summer Girl)
(Jacques-Emile Blanche)


Dated by Jane Roberts to 1904 this painting portrays one of Blanche’s favorite models in informal pose, seated on the arm of a delicate fauteuil. When reproduced in the Illustrated London News in 1905 it was given the title “The Summer Girl”, but we cannot be sure if this was a title given it by the artist or his dealer.

The subject, a beautiful young woman named Denise Manfred, was one of Blanche’s favorite models, whom he painted no less than thirteen times. She is something of a mysterious figure, Desirée Manfred almost certainly not being her real name, but chosen because of some romantic Byronic connection of her own (or her mother’s) invention. Blanche seemed to have discovered her secret, and identified her as the love-child of some well-known public figure, fathered when he was in his eighties (but whose name has never been revealed). It seems that Blanche was first asked to paint her by her mother when she was a child of ten or eleven, and even then captivatingly beautiful. The author Maurice Barrès, another of Blanche’s friends and sitters, saw her in one of her early sittings and was likewise so entranced that he made her the heroine of his novel, Bérénice. Blanche painted her for Barrès again, dressed as Cherubino, the young page from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, always played by a light soprano (this latter painting is now in the Musée de Reims). We do not know what became of Denise, whom she married or when she died.

61 7/8 x 46 ½ ins. 157 x 118 cm.
Oil on canvas

Illustrated London News, 1905, titled The Summer Girl;

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne Jacques Emile Blanche by Jane Roberts and the Comité Blanche;

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Collector’s Exhibition 2016, 2016, p. 21.

Where is It?
Matthiesen Gallery & Stair Sainty Matthiesen
Historical Period
Modern - 1890-1930
Price band
$250,000 - $350,000