|Portrait of Marie-Antoinette|
by Alexander Kucharski
24 x 18 cm .
There are a number of different versions and copies of the portrait. The oil from Versailles, reproduced at the top of this post, is one of the best quality copies accessible to view, and is generally attributed to Kucharski himself. The one above, a pastel, first published in the comte Walsh de Serrant 's Souvenirs de la Révolution in 1901, is held by Olivier Blanc to be the original. Dimensions are unknown. The manuscript annotation, by Louis d'Uzès, affirms that the portrait was made at the Temple after the death of Louis XVI and was intended for his aunt, the Princesse de Tarente, who had escaped the September Massacres and taken refuge in London. At the time of publication in 1901 the picture was still in the family; according to Olivier Blanc it may still be extant.
and photograph, Bibl.Nat. 28cm x22 cm
A different - and noticeably less square-faced - version was published as the original by the older French expert Marguerite Jallut in an article of 1939 and in her book on Marie-Antoinette and her painters in 1955. This picture, again a pastel, belonged to M. Dubois de Chefdebien in Paris in 1939 but, according to Marguerite Jallut, was destroyed in the Second World War. It too was accompanied by a manuscript note (see photo left): "Portrait of Marie-Antoinette by Koharski who, taking service as a National Guard in the Temple after the death of Louis XVI, contrived to see the Queen. He had already painted her in 1780. He sketched this picture down to the smallest details of her mourning clothes." (see Jallut, p.262.)
A third "original", this time an oil painting on a canvas mounted on wood, belonged to the collection of Prince Auguste d'Arenberg in Brussels. According to the d'Arenberg Galerie catalogue of 1829 Kucharski had kept it hidden for a long time and finally gave it to Prince Auguste d'Arenberg, during a trip the latter made to Paris in 1805.
An inscription on the back read as follows:
"Portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette when she was at the Temple, very exact in its detail, down to the pin which held her fichu, as she was dressed shortly before her transfer to the Conciergerie. This picture was painted by Koharski who had painted the portrait of this unhappy princess in 1780; he became a national guard in the service of the Temple, saw the queen, studied her with great attention, and, going back to his studio, drew her from memory. He was in the service of the Temple a second time, studied the queen again and, returning to his studio, finished the portrait. I obtained it from Koharski himself, I knew it to have been painted by him and he knew how much I was attached to the queen. This painting is the original; several other copies were subsequently made by Koharski himself and then by others." Signed Auguste Arenberg
(Jallut (1939) p.262; See also the e-version of the D'Arenberg catalogue (1859), p.112
Oil on canvas, wood mount, 25cm x 20cm.
Formerly Collection d’Arenberg, Bruxelles.Photograph in the Bibl. Nat:
Notice From JOCONDE of the Versailles portrait:
Olivier Blanc, Portraits de femmes : Artistes et modèles à l'époque de Marie-Antoinette
Cosmos Raminez, "Marie-Antoinette en deuil, par Kucharsky" on Le forum de Marie-Antoinette 21/12/2013. This post has a comprehensive set of illustrations of known versions of the picture.
Marguerite Jallut, "Kucharski, dernier peintre de Marie-Antoinette", in Revue d'Histoire de la Philosophie et d'Histoire générale de la Civilisation, Lille, juillet-décembre 1939, p.251-271.
"KUCHARSKI, Alexandre" in Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800 [online edition. Updated 12 Feb 2014]