The Marquise de Castellane with her Embroidery

Jacques-Andre-Joseph Aved, 1702 - 1766

The Marquise de Castellane with her Embroidery

Jacques-Andre-Joseph Aved 1702 - 1766


This painting entered the collection as a portrait of the famous botanical artist, Mary Delany (1700-1788) by Allan Ramsay. Following research by successive curators, it was attributed in 1950 to the great 18th-century French portraitist, Jacques-André-Joseph Aved (1702-1766). In 2018, the sitter was identified as Françoise de Castellane (1685-1769) from an article by Michelle Lespes, ‘Le Peintre Jacques Aved (1702-1766) et La Maison des Riqueti-Mirabeau’, in Provence historique (2007), p. 244, ill. p. 245, where an image of what appears to be Manchester’s painting is captioned ‘La Marquise de Castellane à sa tapisserie’, and apparently located in a British private collection. It is not dated by Lespes, other than being painted after the marriage of her son Victor Riqueti, Marquis de Mirabeau, which took place in 1743. This is the only portrait by Aved in a public collection in the UK. Following his friend Chardin and drawing on his own experience of Dutch portraiture, Aved aimed for a high degree of naturalism in his portraiture. Here, Françoise de Castellane is depicted at ease with herself as she pursues a domestic pastime: embroidering stiff fabric in exquisite gross point. She pauses in her work, a threaded needle in her right hand and an etui in her left. Her dazzling dress, with an elaborate central panel of gold appliqué decorated with lace and pearls, diverts attention from her unembellished, quite ordinary features and grey hair neatly arranged under a small lace cap. The sumptuous dress and richly coloured needlework stand out superbly against a simple background composed of a chair and a swathe of monochrome drapery, lending the sitter authority.

Display Label

The Marquise de Castellane with her Embroidery 1743-66

Jacques-André-Joseph Aved 1702-66

Oil on canvas

Manchester Art Gallery purchased this painting in 1904 as a portrait of botanical illustrator Mary Delany by the British artist Allan Ramsay. This identification was soon disputed, and for a long time the sitter was simply ‘a lady’. In 2018 we identified her as Françoise de Castellane. This happened by chance: an ex-staff member leafing through images in an art library recognised the work in a photocopy from a French journal.

Françoise is shown at ease, with her ‘gross point’ embroidery, a needle to her right and a needle case in her left hand. Aved was known for depicting his sitters with naturalistic, almost ordinary, facial features. He then brought his subjects to life by depicting their leisure pursuits and costume in great detail.

Purchased 1904.1

Object Name

The Marquise de Castellane with her Embroidery

Date Created



unframed: 127.5cm x 101.9cm
framed: 150cm x 122cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint




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