A new acquisition of the chateau de Versailles: A portrait of Marie-Josèphe de Saxe (mother of Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X) in the Savoyarde style by Jean-Marc Nattier
In 1751, Jean-Marc Nattier executed this oval portrait of the Dauphine, Marie-Josèphe de Saxe. Given to the Duchesse de Brancas, the lady-in-waiting of the Dauphine until 1762, it depicts exactly the same face painted by Nattier for the large portrait of the Dauphine in her court dress.
But the costume is quite different: the young heiress to the throne is wearing a “marmotte”, which is a scarf tied under her chin. This was the style of the Savoyardes, Parisian women from Savoie, and was a popular fashion in the years 1740-1750. After being seen as a sign of virtuous poverty, the style gradually took on a more saucy dimension. From the 1760s on, this style was ambivalent: a virtuous mountain woman or a saucy city woman, the Savoyarde could also be a woman who begs or who, especially if she was pretty, was suspected of selling other things than her songs.
The portrait of the Dauphine wearing a “marmotte” is iconographically unique, as no other portrait of the ladies of the royal family in this style has come down to us. So the Dauphine adopted this fashion and this portrait seems to have been painted when she was pregnant with her third son. The Savoyarde costume thus evokes virtuous fertility, although this type of style could be seen as shocking. Given to a lady-in-waiting, this small portrait moves away from official representations and shows the close links between the Dauphine and the ladies of her house.
image: © EPV / RMN / Franck Raux