National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by Andrew Sisson, 2005
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
19th Century European Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Baronne Madeleine Deslandes (1866–1929) was an accomplished novelist who moved in literary and artistic circles in Paris. She was hostess of a busy salon that attracted many Symbolist artists, poets and composers, such as Gabriel Fauré, Jean Lorrain, Robert de Montesquiou, Jules Bois and Oscar Wilde. A firm enthusiast for the English Pre-Raphaelite style, and a particular advocate of Edward Burne-Jones’s art in France, the Baronne had lobbied the artist, a somewhat reluctant portraitist, to create her likeness during a visit she made to England in 1893. The Baronne perceived herself as something of a visionary, and Burne-Jones has made reference to this self-awareness by placing a laurel tree (a traditional emblem of prophecy) behind her, and a crystal ball on her lap. This may also account for the formal qualities of this work – the rather rigid pose of the sitter and her very serious, inwardly reflective and sensitive facial expression.