The Artist's Mother
Delaunay painted his mother's portrait several times: the Musée d'Orsay has one example (1863, RF 731) and the Nantes Museum also has two drawings, one of which shows the old lady reading (Inventory no. 6620).
Mademoiselle Arsène Le Roy (1795-1870), daughter of a respected Nantes businessman and wife of Elie-Vincent Delaunay, was a stalwart supporter of her son's career as an artist. Here we see her set calmly against a dark background, wearing a hat whose blue ribbons echo the colour of her eyes.
Her black dress and fur cape tell us that she is in mourning, with the bow on the hat the only light sartorial touch. The bouquet of flowers alleviates just a little the austerity of a scene whose rough and ready approach resembles that of fresco.