PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST AT AN EASEL, HOLDING A PORTFOLIO
Gouache on vellum
29 x 20cm
The composition of this work is tantalisingly similar to Mosnier's Self-Portrait at an Easel with Two Women Admiring the Artist's Work (Hermitage, St Petersburg), exhibited in 1787 during the approval process for his acceptance into the French Royal Academy. A study for that work, with brushstrokes that could almost be said to be emulated in the present painting, can be found in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Our painting can also be compared to a miniature on ivory by Mosnier - whose skill on this scale with bodycolour is well attested to - which was sold at Christie's, Paris, 23.06.2010, Lot 68 (Portrait of a Young Gentleman, 1779).
The catalogue note for the work sold at Christie's in 2010 quoted Schidlof's seminal text on European miniaturists as follows, "Mosnier was an original miniaturist. He painted very broadly and in a bold way in gouache, which he used even partly in the faces. In almost all his min. [sic] one finds glistening silks, which he rendered perfectly... Mosnier can be considered as one of the best French miniaturists of his period'" .
 L. R. Schidlof, The Miniature in Europe, Graz (1964), vol. II, p. 574