Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné (1626-1696)

Claude Lefèbvre (1632-1675)

    • Circa 1665
      Oil on canvas
      Public sale purchase in 1960

Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, the future Madame de Sévigné, was born in 1626 at Place Royale, currently 1 bis, Place des Vosges. She lived in the Marais district until her death at her daughter’s home in Grignan (Drôme department) in 1696. During her life, she had lived successively in several private mansions before moving with her family in 1677 to the Hôtel des Ligneris, that she nicknamed La Carnavalette.
A portrait painted by Claude Lefebvre, one of the best French portraitists of the 17th century, shows Madame de Sévigné in half mourning, since the marchioness was already a widow at 25. The witty and animated expression that the painter gave to this portrait conveys the spirited mind of the most illustrious of the residents of the Hôtel Carnavalet. She was a renowned letter writer whose correspondence creates a brilliant and very vivid portrait of the society of her time, served by a vigor and freedom of style that were exceptional in the classical epoch.