La Repasseuse

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La Repasseuse, by French revolutionary artist Jacques Louis David, is one of the most famous and valuable paintings in public ownership in Jersey. It has been part of the Town Hall's collection since 1890. David was the most progressive and highly influential French painter and a central figure in the art movement known as Neoclassicism. David painted many portraits, chiefly of leading contemporary figures and interpretations of the French Revolution. David soon came to the attention of Napoleon who appointed him his official painter, after which he produced a number of glorifying pictures. La Repasseuse (The Ironing Lady) is unusual because its subject matter is that of a working class woman. However, David elevates her from her task and everyday existence placing her in a classic female pose with turned head and torso. As well as this, the cherries falling from her apron were an artistic allusion to heaven and were considered to be a reward for virtuousness. La Repasseuse was donated to the Town Hall in 1890 by Mrs Lucinda Mary Turner, who inherited it from brother-in-law, Pierre Le Sueur who was Constable of St Helier. Because of its size and condition at the time, the painting was discarded and chosen to be put away. With this decision, the Town Hall had unknowingly hidden away a work of art that would one day to be sought after by the world’s most famous art galleries. The painting was re-discovered 75 years later but experts began to question if the piece were genuine or not. However, the matter was resolved in 1965 when the National Gallery London put a seal of approval on the painting's authenticity. It has hung proudly in the Town Hall ever since.(Sophie Gorman, 2009)
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