La Courtesan Duthé
A gold finger ring containing a fine enamel portrait of La Duthé, circa 1790. Catherine-Rosalie Duthé [1748 – 1830] was the most celebrated French courtesan of her day. The companion of French kings and European nobility, she has been called the ‘first officially recorded dumb blonde’ due to her habit of leaving long pregnant pauses before speaking. After leaving a French convent Rosalie became the mistress of wealthy English financier George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont. She then became a dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet and the companion of various noblemen including the Duc de Durfort, the Marquis de Genlis and the young Comte d’Artois, the future king of France, Charles X. Duthé was often asked to sit for portraits. Périn-Salbreux, better known as a miniaturist, painted at least five portraits of Rosalie, including a nude of her sitting at the end of her bath for the Comte d’Artois at Bagatelle. Another portrays her lying naked on her bed with hair dishevelled.
Here Duthé is depicted as an ideal 18th century beauty. Her powdered hair is artfully arranged and adorned with a bright red ribbon and pearls. Her eyebrows are full and half-moon shaped. Her cheeks are rouged and her skin is white. Her lips are small and red, creating a rosebud effect. Duthé is semi-clad in a robe en gaulle, a diaphanous robe made of white muslin or silk, to wear in private places. The miniature is signed on the obverse Kanz, for Carl Christian Kanz [1758 – c.1818], a technically proficient German portrait miniaturist who trained and worked in France. There are examples of Kanz’s miniatures in the Victoria and Albert and Metropolitan Museums. The ring is size K and 1/2 [US 5 and 3/8] and the head of the ring measures 1.5 inches by one inch. A beautiful and extremely competent miniature of a fascinating ‘horizontale’.