Jacques-Louis David’s portrait painting of Madame De Verninac, completed in 1799, is a sensual and elegant piece of artwork that showcases her classical costume popular during the Directory. Henriette’s family had a strong involvement in the arts, which may have contributed to the creation of several portrait paintings and sculptures of her.
The painting is part of a collection that includes Joseph Chinard’s sculpture where Henriette is portrayed as Diana the Huntress Preparing Her Arrows. Both artworks are currently held by the Musée du Louvre. David’s portrait captures Henriette wearing Directory fashion, a simple chemise gown with a high waist and low neck.
While there is little information available regarding why David painted Henriette, it can be inferred that she was an influential figure during this period due to her status as a noblewoman. The simplicity of the setting in this portrait places emphasis on Madame De Verninac herself and effectively conveys elegance and sensuality.
Overall, Jacques-Louis David’s exquisite portrayal of Madame De Verninac exemplifies his mastery in creating art pieces embodying neo-classical style. Through this work, he perfectly captures Henriette’s beauty, grace and nobility while also showcasing his skill as an artist through intricate detailing such as clothing details and lighting nuances.