Lot 751

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Jose Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza
(Mexican/New Orleans, 1750-1802)

"Portrait of Marie Cesaire Dreux de Gentilly (1781-1826) and Her Step-Mother, Genevieve Felicite Trudeau de Longueuil Dreux (1770-1802)", ca. 1787-1789

oil on canvas
faintly signed lower left.
Framed.
36-1/4" x 30", framed 46-1/4" x 39"

Provenance: With the sitter Marie Cesaire Dreux de Gentilly Verret, thence by descent; her son (Theodule) Jules Verret (1817-1896); his son Honore A. Verret (1861-1952); his daughter Azelie Verret Bechac (1907-1978); her daughter (the Estate of ) Eulalie Jeanne Bechac Fabacher (1930-2020), River Ridge, Louisiana.

Literature: Grace King, Creole Families of New Orleans, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921); Josh Foreman and Ryan Starrett, Hidden History of New Orleans, (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2020); Henry P. Dart, ed., The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Volume 6, No. 1, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Jones Printing Company, 1924); Various, Illustrated Guide and Sketchbook to New Orleans, (New York: Will. H. Coleman, 1885); Cybele Gontar, ed., Salazar, (New Orleans: Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans Press, nd); Mrs. T.N.C. Bruns, Louisiana Portraits, (New Orleans: National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1975); John Burton Harter and Mary Louise Tucker, The Louisiana Portrait Gallery Volume I to 1870, (New Orleans: The Louisiana State Museum, 1979)

Notes: This impressive double portrait of Marie-Cesaire Dreux de Gentilly and her stepmother Genevieve Felicite Trudeau de Longueuil Dreux by Jose Francisco Xavier de Salazar was commissioned by Guy Dreux de Gentilly around the time of his 1787 marriage (or very shortly thereafter) to Genevieve and is a stunning visual representation of the joining of his two families and testament to his high regard for both his young daughter and his new wife.

Salazar was the first identified portraitist working in the city, and his portraits of the most prominent members of Louisiana society - social, military and religious - serve as significant historical records. This portrait reveals numerous stylistic qualities of the artist; it is rendered in deep, rich tones, with the three-quarter-length figures against a vague dark background and encircled in a phantom tondo. All the expected accoutrements of wealth and prestige are evident: the layers of intricate handmade lace, the sumptuous fabrics, and the matching delicate coral and gold jewelry. In the upper right corner is an unexpected element: the faint shadow of two fine tassels hanging from the draperies. The two figures gaze directly at the viewer with half smiles, but their bodies are turned slightly towards each other creating a sense of intimacy and affection. The young girl has a bird perched on her finger, and she and her stepmother touch hands as the older woman holds a rounded fruit, a symbol of fecundity and fruitfulness.

On her father's side, Marie Cesaire was a direct descendant of the founders of New Orleans; her grandfather was Mathurin Dreux who sailed from the Port of La Rochelle, France to Nouvelle Orleans in 1719 with the Concession of Sieur Mazy to join his brother Pierre who was already in the new city and is probably the Dreux mentioned in early documents as being with Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (the several times Governor of French Louisiana) at the founding of the city in 1718. In recognition for their crucial role in the early formation of the city, in 1725 the two Dreux brothers were ceded their choice of land; they astutely, and somewhat surprisingly, chose land adjacent to the natural levee of Bayou St. John. They had seen firsthand the devastation of the Vieux Carre by a hurricane in 1722 and wisely wanted to settle on higher ground. For reasons never clearly determined, the brothers referred to the area as Gentilly (though some recent scholarship suggests it was initially Chantilly for the Duke of Bourbon's Chateau du Chantilly); they soon became known as the Sieurs de Gentilly and in virtually all subsequent documents and contracts they are referred to as such.

After the two brothers wed - Mathurin to Claudine Francoise Hugot and Pierre to Anne Corbin Bachemin, the two families resided together on the Dreux Gentilly Plantation. The Plantation was to remain in the family until 1816. The brothers were involved in numerous profitable businesses including brick-making, timber harvesting and cattle raising. Mathurin's son, (Louis) Guy (Guido) Charles Dreux de Gentilly, was born in 1757. In 1777 he wed Pelagia Toutant-Beauregard with whom he had three children, of whom the child of this portrait was their only daughter. Pelagia was the daughter of Jacques Santiago Toutant-Beauregard and Marie Magdeline Cartier de Castanedo, and the maternal aunt of General Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard. Both the Dreux de Gentilly and Toutant-Beauregard families were known for socially advantageous marriages, and through her parents' siblings Marie-Cesaire had familial connections with nearly every prominent New Orleans family including: Livaudais, Bouligny, Villere, Foucher, Soniat (initially Saunhac), d'Estrehan, de Villiers, Fortier, Charbonnet, among others.

Pelagia died shortly after the birth of her third child, and several years later Guy wed Genevieve Felicite Trudeau de Longueuil, the daughter of Jean-Louis Marie Trudeau de Longueuil and Jeanne-Felicite Dubreuil De Villars and the niece of Charles Trudeau dit Laveau (whose portrait and that of his wife Charlotte Perraud Trudeau by Salazar are in the collection of the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University). Through her stepmother, Marie-Cesaire had connections to the Le Moyne, Iberville and Bienville families.

In 1804, Marie-Cesaire wed Dr. Edouard Verret, descendant of Nicolas Verret who was a prominent businessman and one of the founders of St. James Parish (then known as Saint-Jacques de Cabonocee). The couple were to have ten children who survived infancy. This portrait descended in the Verret family to her son Theodule Jules Verret, who served as Mayor of Mandeville; his son Honore Armadle Verret; his daughter Azelie Verret Bechac; and her daughter Eulalie Jeanne Bechac Fabacher.

New Orleans Auction Galleries is honored to have the opportunity to auction this historically significant Salazar portrait.

    Provenance:
  • With the sitter Marie Cesaire Dreux de Gentilly Verret, thence by descent; her son (Theodule) Jules Verret (1817-1896); his son Honore A. Verret (1861-1952); his daughter Azelie Verret Bechac (1907-1978); her daughter (the Estate of ) Eulalie Jeanne Bechac Fabacher (1930-2020), River Ridge, Louisiana.
  • Dimensions:
  • 36-1/4" x 30", framed 46-1/4" x 39"
  • Artist Name:
  • Jose Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza (Mexican/New Orleans, 1750-1802)
  • Literature:
  • Grace King, Creole Families of New Orleans, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921); Josh Foreman and Ryan Starrett, Hidden History of New Orleans, (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2020); Henry P. Dart, ed., The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Volume 6, No. 1, (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Jones Printing Company, 1924); Various, Illustrated Guide and Sketchbook to New Orleans, (New York: Will. H. Coleman, 1885); Cybele Gontar, ed., Salazar, (New Orleans: Ogden Museum of Southern Art/University of New Orleans Press, nd); Mrs. T.N.C. Bruns, Louisiana Portraits, (New Orleans: National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1975); John Burton Harter and Mary Louise Tucker, The Louisiana Portrait Gallery Volume I to 1870, (New Orleans: The Louisiana State Museum, 1979)
  • Medium:
  • oil on canvas
  • Notes:
  • This impressive double portrait of Marie-Cesaire Dreux de Gentilly and her stepmother Genevieve Felicite Trudeau de Longueuil Dreux by Jose Francisco Xavier de Salazar was commissioned by Guy Dreux de Gentilly around the time of his 1787 marriage (or very shortly thereafter) to Genevieve and is a stunning visual representation of the joining of his two families and testament to his high regard for both his young daughter and his new wife.

    Salazar was the first identified portraitist working in the city, and his portraits of the most prominent members of Louisiana society - social, military and religious - serve as significant historical records. This portrait reveals numerous stylistic qualities of the artist; it is rendered in deep, rich tones, with the three-quarter-length figures against a vague dark background and encircled in a phantom tondo. All the expected accoutrements of wealth and prestige are evident: the layers of intricate handmade lace, the sumptuous fabrics, and the matching delicate coral and gold jewelry. In the upper right corner is an unexpected element: the faint shadow of two fine tassels hanging from the draperies. The two figures gaze directly at the viewer with half smiles, but their bodies are turned slightly towards each other creating a sense of intimacy and affection. The young girl has a bird perched on her finger, and she and her stepmother touch hands as the older woman holds a rounded fruit, a symbol of fecundity and fruitfulness.

    On her father's side, Marie Cesaire was a direct descendant of the founders of New Orleans; her grandfather was Mathurin Dreux who sailed from the Port of La Rochelle, France to Nouvelle Orleans in 1719 with the Concession of Sieur Mazy to join his brother Pierre who was already in the new city and is probably the Dreux mentioned in early documents as being with Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (the several times Governor of French Louisiana) at the founding of the city in 1718. In recognition for their crucial role in the early formation of the city, in 1725 the two Dreux brothers were ceded their choice of land; they astutely, and somewhat surprisingly, chose land adjacent to the natural levee of Bayou St. John. They had seen firsthand the devastation of the Vieux Carre by a hurricane in 1722 and wisely wanted to settle on higher ground. For reasons never clearly determined, the brothers referred to the area as Gentilly (though some recent scholarship suggests it was initially Chantilly for the Duke of Bourbon's Chateau du Chantilly); they soon became known as the Sieurs de Gentilly and in virtually all subsequent documents and contracts they are referred to as such.

    After the two brothers wed - Mathurin to Claudine Francoise Hugot and Pierre to Anne Corbin Bachemin, the two families resided together on the Dreux Gentilly Plantation. The Plantation was to remain in the family until 1816. The brothers were involved in numerous profitable businesses including brick-making, timber harvesting and cattle raising. Mathurin's son, (Louis) Guy (Guido) Charles Dreux de Gentilly, was born in 1757. In 1777 he wed Pelagia Toutant-Beauregard with whom he had three children, of whom the child of this portrait was their only daughter. Pelagia was the daughter of Jacques Santiago Toutant-Beauregard and Marie Magdeline Cartier de Castanedo, and the maternal aunt of General Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard. Both the Dreux de Gentilly and Toutant-Beauregard families were known for socially advantageous marriages, and through her parents' siblings Marie-Cesaire had familial connections with nearly every prominent New Orleans family including: Livaudais, Bouligny, Villere, Foucher, Soniat (initially Saunhac), d'Estrehan, de Villiers, Fortier, Charbonnet, among others.

    Pelagia died shortly after the birth of her third child, and several years later Guy wed Genevieve Felicite Trudeau de Longueuil, the daughter of Jean-Louis Marie Trudeau de Longueuil and Jeanne-Felicite Dubreuil De Villars and the niece of Charles Trudeau dit Laveau (whose portrait and that of his wife Charlotte Perraud Trudeau by Salazar are in the collection of the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University). Through her stepmother, Marie-Cesaire had connections to the Le Moyne, Iberville and Bienville families.

    In 1804, Marie-Cesaire wed Dr. Edouard Verret, descendant of Nicolas Verret who was a prominent businessman and one of the founders of St. James Parish (then known as Saint-Jacques de Cabonocee). The couple were to have ten children who survived infancy. This portrait descended in the Verret family to her son Theodule Jules Verret, who served as Mayor of Mandeville; his son Honore Armadle Verret; his daughter Azelie Verret Bechac; and her daughter Eulalie Jeanne Bechac Fabacher.

    New Orleans Auction Galleries is honored to have the opportunity to auction this historically significant Salazar portrait.

  • Condition:
  • **Previously restored and relined, but retaining original stretcher bars; edges of original canvas trimmed and this is apparent along upper and lower edges. Partially cleaned recently. Scattered inpainting: mid-upper left, woman's face, chest and edge of hair; girl's bridge of nose, lace, around bird, where the two hands meet; scattered small other areas. Layer of surface soiling and dirt. Some abrading along edges. Yellowing and darkening of the varnish layer. Frame--antique but not period--with losses, areas of abrading and signs of past restoration.

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From: To: Increments:
$0 $49 $5
$50 $99 $10
$100 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $200
$5,000 $9,999 $250
$10,000 $14,999 $500
$15,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,000
$50,000 + $5,000