agathe St Aubin à l'age de 12 ans. 1752

(Agathe de Saint-Aubin, aged 12. 1752)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Augustin de (b.1736, d.1807)
Attributed to:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Additional handwriting by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu (b.c 1784, d.1869)
1822-1869 {One inscription by Tardieu}
The drawing is inscribed 1752
Place of Production:
Paris, France
graphite and ink on paper pasted onto page; the pasted-down paper is partially detached, revealing a drawing in ink beneath.
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

A portrait of a girl is viewed in left profile. Her face is lowered and her eyes downcast. She raises her right hand slightly, extending her index finger. The girl wears a close-fitting bonnet with a frilled edge. A dark-coloured ribbon is tied tightly about her neck and she wears a dress with a bib pinned to its bodice.

The portrait is executed in graphite on a piece of paper once glued to the page, to which it corresponds in size. The right edge of the paper is tipped into the book, but the other three have become loose, revealing a drawing in ink on the page beneath (675.215.v).

Curatorial Commentary

Agathe de Saint-Aubin, depicted here with a finger raised, as if in gentle admonition, was the youngest sibling of Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, who was 18 years old at her birth. The drawing dates from 1752, when she was 12 years old, and is by her brother Augustin, who himself would only have been 16 at the time. In the short family biographies included in his “Receuil des Plantes” (Oak Spring Garden Library, Virginia), Charles-Germain described her as “timide et contre-faite” (‘timid and deformed’). Another portrait of Agathe by her brother Augustin may be found on page 112 of the family album, the “Livre des Saint-Aubin” (Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. RF 52359). In this, she holds a fan in her right hand and points with her left. The pose is less introverted than that of this particularly intimate portrait.

This portrait recalls Augustin de Saint-Aubin’s black chalk drawing of another, younger girl, with flowers tucked into her bodice, seated in a chair, reading, which was once in the Goncourt collection (with James Faber, 2010; Launay, 1985, p. 435, no. 282). The Goncourt drawing is more highly finished, in a carefully observed interior, and the child is seen from the front. However, in both works the artist paid attention to the concentration on the face of the sitter as she looks down, at a book in one, at her finger in the other.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Agathe St Aubin à l'age de 12 ans. 1752 / par Augustin S. Aubin
Inscribed by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu, top left, in ink

Top left corner of pasted-down paper, in ink
Translation of inscription
Agathe de Saint-Aubin, aged 12, 1752. byr Augustin de Saint- Aubin


Part of:
Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises. 675.1-389
Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Colin Jones, Emily Richardson; Archaeology and materiality; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 31-53; pp. 39n, 43n, 46
Katie Scott; Saint-Aubin's jokes and their relation to...; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 349-403; pp. 394, 395n

Related literature

Victor Advielle; Renseignements intimes sur les Saint-Aubin, dessinateurs et graveurs, d'après les papiers de leur famille; Paris; L Soulié; 1896
Elisabeth Launay; Les frères Goncourt collectionneurs de dessins; Paris; Arthena; 1991
Pierre Rosenberg; Le Livre des Saint-Aubin; Paris; Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux; 2002

Indexed terms