Mme de Genlis in Los Angeles

In the Ahmanson building of the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA), the portrait of Mme de Genlis by Adélaïde Labille-Guilard hangs next to a seated statue of old Voltaire by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The philosopher posed for the sculptor around 1778. Houdon produced at least three versions of this work: the other two I’m aware of are in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and in the library of the Comédie Française.

A little further away at the same hall at LACMA, there’s Houdon’s 1786 bust of Count Cagliostro. De Genlis knew both of them. She visited Voltaire in Fernay in 1777 and was (allegedly) a member of Cagliostro’s Isis lodge in Paris around that time.

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