Portrait, presumed to be of Miss White, 1838


It is thought that the portrait, referred to in the 1838 Salon catalogue as Portrait of Miss W, may perhaps be of the daughter of Louis-Philippe’s trusted valet, George White. There was a ‘Mademoiselle White’ in service during the 1830s as a chambermaid to Adélaïde d’Orléans, Louis Philippe’s sister and it would not have been uncommon for the child of a trusted servant to gain employment in the household of another member of the royal family.


George White himself had originally been employed by the brother of the king, the duc de Montpensier, and following his death in 1807 had been taken on by Louis-Philippe. George While is believed to have entered the royal family’s service during their first exile in England, from 1800-1815, and rose to be the closest of personal servants. George had rooms at both the castle of Randan and the Trianon at Versailles and was granted an allowance of 3000 francs during Louis-Philippe’s second exile, 1848-1850.


It is also known that George had an eye for art, purchasing works on behalf of Louis-Philippe on a number of occasions. Although this portrait may seem grand for a servant, it perhaps shows both the esteem with which the family was held within the Royal Household and also George’s connections within the artistic fraternity. Whether he was personally known to Court we are not sure, however Court’s extended activity at Versailles during the July monarchy must have brought the two of them to an acquaintance with each other.



Court studied at the École de Beaux Arts under Baron Gros and won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1821 for his painting, Samson and Dalila. He gained further acclaim six years later for his Salon submission Death of Caesar. His confident handling of both composition and technique marked him out as a rising star of academic painting and his triumph remains on show in the Louvre. Commissions came from the government of Louis-Philippe for both interior decorations and portraits, including paintings for the new historical galleries at Versailles. In 1830 he was commissioned to paint a large picture of Louis Philippe titled The King gives the flags to the National Guard of Paris and the Banlieu (29 August 1830). His oeuvre also included the movement of Romantic painting that became popular in France in the first half of the 19th century but as his career progressed he focused primarily on portraiture.


As a portraitist he captured the likenesses of important French officials and foreign figures like the Prince of Oldenburg. Notably he painted and idealsied portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette in 1834, the year the Revolutionary hero died.




Marquis de Lafayette, 1834 – Chateau de Versailles


130 x 97 cm; Framed size: 168 x 136 cm
oil on canvas

Henri Vezzani Collection, Château de Champigny-sur-Veude (Indre-et-Loire) 1938 – 1957 ; Private collection, France.


Probably 1838 Salon, Paris, no. 361, titled Portrait de miss W.; Probably 1838 Salon, Lyon, no. 79 bis, titled Portrait de Mademoiselle W. (Frédéric Mercey in Le Salon de 1838″, in Revue des Deux Mondes, t. 14, III, pp. 355-363 refers to the sitter in the painting as Miss White).

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