Self-Portrait with a Harp, ca. 1790. Oil on canvas. 76 x 50 ¾ in. (193 x 128.9 cm)
She was the daughter of eccentric 18th century painter (and internet meme, based on the combination of the ideas of playfulness and refinement) Joseph Ducreux (1735 – 1802)
Ducreux exhibited this self-portrait at the 1791 Salon. She depicts herself testing the tuning of a contemporary single-action harp. A book of sheet music, pictured on the table at left, is open to a song honoring “tender love.” By portraying her musical talents along with her considerable painting skills, Ducreux presents herself as an exemplar of feminine refinement, able to shift gracefully between art and music. This painting is the finest known example of her work.
Cathelin et Ducreux, “Elisabeth de France, soeur du roi”.
Paris, musée Carnavalet.
Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène de France, called Madame Elizabeth, was born May 3, 1764 at Versailles. Sister to Louis XVI, orphaned at the age of three, she received an excellent education and was distinguished by her talents in mathematics and science.
In 1783, Louis XVI gave her land and a house in the village of Montreuil, that remains today in the district of Montreuil at Versailles under the name “Domaine de Madame Elisabeth.”
She quickly developed a strong attachment to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, by whose side she remained all his life especially refusing to marry. Under the Terror, she had to appear before the Revolutionary Court and was sentenced to death. She was guillotined May 10, 1794 in Paris.