Portrait of Marie Antoinette’s dog skyrocketed at auction
An adorable portrait of a small dog was auctioned this morning at Sotheby’s, where it sold for $279,400 including fees, almost 56 times the top estimate of $5,000. Jacques Barthélemy Delamare painted an oil painting from the late 18th century. thought it was a picture “Pompom” Marie Antoinette, one of the many canine companions of the French Queen. The plot of the portrait is shrouded in mystery, but little is known about the artist.
Jacques Barthelemy Delamare was admitted to the Académie Saint-Luc in Paris in 1777 and painted in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Beyond these facts, Sotheby’s Old Masters specialist Elizabeth Lobkowicz told Hyperallergic, all that is known is that a small portion of Delamarre’s work almost exclusively depicts versions of this dog and other small domestic animals, including cats and rabbits.
Other portraits of Pompom Delamarre show a dog eating a biscuit and resting on a lush red cushion. Lobkowicz said that while these compositions were historically thought to depict Pom-Pom, this notion has not been confirmed with certainty.
Lobkowicz said the dog’s breed also remains a matter of debate: “Is that a poodle? Is this a King Charles Spaniel? Or is it a completely different toy breed?” What is known is that “Pompon” wore a ridiculous hairstyle very similar to the famous demonstrated by Marie Antoinette.
Antoinette’s house at Versailles filled with pets including cats and monkeys. Antoinette belongs tiny puppies until she was executed in 1793. She even had a gilded velvet and silk doghouse now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to the label on the back of Delamarra’s painting, the last time the work was auctioned was in 1986, when Bonhams offered it with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
Claude I Sené, The Doghouse (c. 1775–1780), gilt beech and pine, silk and velvet, 30 3/4 x 21 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches (Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art)