Two years ago, as I was making final revisions to Midwife of Normandy, I found this image of a 17th century painting. It reminded me so much of Clare Dupres combing her daughter Lucina’s curls, that I changed the color of Clare’s wedding gown to match. This is the type of gown a French lady of quality would have worn back in 1684. And Clare did have a set of pearls that Jacques gave her for their anniversary.
When I researched the painting, I discovered that the child was actually a little boy! Yes, it was difficult back then to tell young boys from girls. So this would most likely have been her son Jean-Pierre.
This is still one of my favorite pictures. It is said Jane Austen used to visit the National Gallery to look at portraits, trying to picture her own fictional characters. I like to think I am like Jane in that respect, except that here in rural Northern Arizona we lack portrait galleries. Thank heavens for the internet, Pinterest and Google Images!
The painting is attributed to artist Claude Lefebvre, an Antwerp painter, and dated 1672. It is called “The Artist’s Eldest Daughter Combing her Little Brother’s Hair.” It hangs in the Musee Magnin.