Portrait of the Comtesse de Montsoreau and Her Sister as Diana and an Attendant
Nicolas de Largillière ( French, 1656 - 1746 )
At first we might mistake this painting for a mythological representation of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, accompanied by her attendant and her dogs; however, it is actually a portrait in which the two sitters—the Comtesse de Montsoreau (likely Jeanne-Agnès-Thérèse) and her sister—are depicted in the guise of the antique goddess and one of her companions. This type of allegorical portrait was extremely popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Largillière was renowned for his ability to use this theatrical device without sacrificing the portraitist’s task of capturing a vivid likeness.