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Friday 3 July 2020

Dominique Vivant Denon’s etching, “Madame Mosion”, c1780

(Baron) Dominique Vivant Denon (1747–1825)

“Madame Mosion” (TIB title), c1780 (1757–in or before 1803 [Rijksmuseum dates of attribution).

I understand that the subject of this beautiful portrait, Madame Mosion, was the artist’s lover and—according to Judith Nowinski (1975) in “Baron Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825): Hedonist and Scholar in a Period of Transition” (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press)—“aroused in Denon an intense wish to depict the female body” (p. 72). Indeed, Nowinski (1975) advises that Madame Mosion is portrayed “up to the waist, in the nude, seen in her most provocative hair-do and in positions of abandon, from every body angle, all executed with the artist’s lightest, most playful stroke” (ibid). Going further, Nowinski cites an interesting comment from arts writers of the time (Portalis and Béraldi) who viewed the artworks depicting Madam Mosion as showing “the most voluptuous poses … and the most licentious sexual fantasies known to lewd antiquity” (ibid). From a very personal viewpoint (based solely on comparing portraits executed by Denon) I see a close similarity between the facial features, hat and hair style of the noble Duchess de Courlande (see Denon’s etchings,TIB 12101.144 –.145) and this attractive lady known as “Madam Mosion”—but, of course, I may be wrong.

Etching with plate tone on laid paper with wide margins.
Size: (sheet) 50.2 x 36.8 cm; (plate) 24.6 x 17.9.
Numbered on plate: (upper right corner) “30B
Inscribed on plate: (lower right) “De Non Del e[t] S”

TIB 12101.176 (Petra ten-Doesschate Chu 1985, “The Illustrated Bartsch: French Masters of the Nineteenth Century: Dominique Vivant Denon”, vol. 121, Part 1 [Supplement], New York, Abaris Books, p. 150, cat. no. [12101].176);  IFF 324 (Département des Estampes 1950, “Inventaire du Fonds Français: Graveurs du Dix-Huitième Siècle”, vol. 6, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, p. 584, cat. no. 324).

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Portrait of Madame Moison: woman bust-length with curly hair and hat adorned with large ribbon”
See also the descriptions of this print offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum:

Condition: a superb, richly inked and well-printed impression with generously wide margins and in excellent condition.

I am selling this exceptionally beautiful portrait of the artist’s lover and muse for AU$267 in total (currently US$185.31/EUR164.89/GBP148.77 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this exquisitely romantic portrait executed with lines that are so fresh and “alive” that (to my eyes) this print is a masterwork of 18thcentury etching, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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