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A lady is seen putting on or removing a chemise, while her maid attends, proffering a gown. The figure of the lady is based on a vivid life drawing by the artist. It is known that Watteau moved in a ‘fast’ set, with whom he would spend evenings sketching from the female life model. It is probably these sketching sessions, and the influence of such company, that inspired the young artist to paint the licentious subjects of which he repented towards the end of his life. On his deathbed he instructed that all such works should be destroyed. The Wallace Collection’s picture is one of only three known surviving works. Nevertheless it stands at the beginning of a distinguished tradition of the contemporary female nude in French art.

The Wallace Collection



A Lady at her Toilet




oil on canvas


H 45.2 x W 37.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1869; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

Work type



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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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