This portrait de Madame Marie Toulmouche, painted in 1884 is divided into two distinct planes. In the foreground Madame Toulmouche poses against a verdant landscape...
... while in the background stands Blanche-Couronne Abbey, near Savenay, which she had inherited and turned into a meeting point for artists.
Daughter of magistrate Alphonse Lecadre, Marie was an extremely beautiful woman whose singing, piano playing and reciting of poetry made her a highly respected figure in the salons of Nantes.
The details of the painting are exquisitely treated, Marie is holding a cane with a jade pommel.
Her brown suede gloves and a partly transparent muslin blouse that emphasises a full bosom.
Her blue-grey eyes harmonise with the velvet ribbons and the lightly clouded summer sky.
With a dedication to his model in the bottom right corner, this is one of the most sensual of all Delaunay's portraits.
Blanche-Couronne Abbey was a cultural Mecca, where Marie Lecadre brought together the cream of the Paris scene, notably during the war with Germany in 1870. Resident guests included Jules-Elie Delaunay, of course, but also Gustave Doré, Puvis de Chavanne, Paul Baudry, Henri-Pierre Picou, José-Maria de Hérédia and George Sand.
A cousin of Claude Monet, Marie was the link between Auguste Toulmouche, already a well-known painter, and the young Impressionist starting out in Le Havre in the 1860s. Her correspondence with Paul Baudry is often spirited and witty.
As a sign of his friendship for the Toulmouche couple, in 1877 Delaunay created an Allegory of Painting: in it we see Auguste and Marie at Blanche-Couronne Abbey, surrounded by their artist friends and accompanied by the muse of Painting.