Madame François Buron | 1769 | Jacques-Louis David
The first thing that captures me about this painting by Jacques-Louis David is the expression on Madame Francios Buron's face. What do you think that expression represents? In the quote below from George Dunkley's blog, Books and Art, the expression is described as "a warm reserve." But I don't think that quite captures it. She seems a little caught off guard? A bit annoyed? A little shy? What do you think?
The second thing that struck me was her wardrobe. She has such a perfectly 1970s dress on. In particular, the robings (or strips of ruched, gathered or pleated fabric) down the front of the gown which appear on both the painting and this sample gown from 1765.
It was common during this time to wear the same dress to multiple occasions. You'd simply change the trimmings depending on the event. The gown shown above is a Robe à la Française or a sack-back gown. The back of the dress hangs loose from the shoulders down, as opposed to fitting closely to the body, which would be called a Robe à la Anglaise. It is impossible to tell which style Madame Francios Buron is wearing in the portrait.
I imagine that Madame Francios Buron might be reading The History of Emily Montague by Frances Brooke, published the same year as the painting by Jacques-Louis David was completed. This was the first novel to be published in Canada. Fun side note: you know how annoying it is when young people use the term "literally" in a hyperbolic or figurative sense? We have Frances Brooke to blame. It was in this book that the first known figurative use of "literally" was used.