A long-lost portrait of Marie-Antoinette is going up for auction

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A portrait of Marie-Antoinette by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis will go under the hammer on the 25 november.
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She was France's most famous queen and one of the world's most famous queens in history. French auction house Aguttes will soon offer for sale a portrait of Marie Antoinette during her adolescence. It is estimated to fetch between 20,000 and 30,000 euros.

Created for the mother of Marie-Antoinette, this painting represents the wife of the young prince who would become Louis XVI. Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, painter to the kings and nobility of France, was commissioned in 1771 to paint an equestrian portrait of the future queen of France, aged 16.

However the representation on horseback became a bust portrait of the adolescent girl as not enough sittings were done to realize the original concept. A sketch of this original commission remains in the Musée de Versailles, while a finished version of the portrait was listed in 1913 but whose current location remains unknown.

The painting that is going up for auction was recently rediscovered by Grégoire Lacroix, director of the Paintings & Antique Drawings department at Aguttes. It was only belatedly attributed to Duplessis because of administrative documents, which suggested that the commission had been done by the portraitist Joseph Ducreux.

This portrait of Marie-Antoinette will go under the hammer on November 25, during Aguttes' next sale dedicated to Old Masters. The house has estimated it at between 20,000 and 30,000 euros. However, bidding could go up quickly given the public's interest for paintings and other royal memorabilia that belonged to the French sovereign.

Diamond bracelets certified to have belonged to Marie Antoinette recently sold for nearly 7.5 million Swiss francs (US$8.19 million) at Christie's. But that's a modest sum compared to the 36.427 million Swiss francs (US$36 million) achieved by a diamond pendant adorned with a pear-shaped pearl that belonged to the French queen in 2018 at Sotheby's. Proof, it would seem, that there is no price to pay for a piece of history.

Caroline Drzewinski

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