Boilly at the Wallace Collection
The latter went on to purchase an additional seven works
directly from the artist. Both Tulle and Calvet de Lapalun
actively dictated the subjects they wished to see in paint,
providing Boilly with explicit instructions to this effect.10
The result was a suite of eleven paintings meditating upon
the manifold pleasures and pitfalls of romance.
Fig. 2 / Louis-Léopold Boilly,
The Sorrows of Love, 1790,
oil on canvas, 46 x 55.7
cm, London, The Wallace
Fig. 3 / Louis-Léopold Boilly,
The Dead Mouse, oil on canvas,
41.2 x 32.6 cm, London, The
Wallace Collection.
The dimensions of The Visit and The Sorrows of Love
conform to the French standard size “10”. The use
of standard sized canvases in eighteenth-century Paris
has only recently begun to be noted in art-historical
literature. However, it was clearly a widespread
phenomenon, particularly from the middle part of the
century onwards when artists appear to have converted
Boilly at the Wallace Collection
increasingly to using standard-sized canvases, which
were attractive for offering convenience at a reasonable
price.11 Boilly appears to have used standard-sized
formats regularly. His Dead Mouse (see fig. 3), probably
made in ca. 1795-1796, corresponds to the French size
“6”. The little portraits he made from 1800 onwards
are on standard size “1” canvases, with frames to
match. Working on these commercially-sized supports,
Boilly standardized the visual appearances of the
portraits themselves – the frontally-facing sitters are,
almost without exception, shown cropped to the
shoulders looking solemnly out at the viewer. Many
of these small paintings are still on their original
expandable stretchers (fig. 4).12


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