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Gallery Text

This painting has posed a puzzle since it entered the Wertheim Collection in 1937. It was known that Toulouse-Lautrec created it while he was still a young artist, but the identity of the black woman at the center of the composition remained a mystery. She was sometimes said to be a countess the artist had seen while spending the winter in Nice, then a seasonal resort community for affluent French families. An archival discovery in 2019 revealed that she is likely Anne Justine Angèle Delva de Dalmarie. A member of the Haitian aristocracy who had emigrated to France, she was famous in Paris and Nice for her lavish parties. The clothing of the man beside the countess suggests that he is her coachman, a sign of her affluence. The countess, though, has taken the reins, speeding along Nice’s sunny shoreline while a dog gives chase.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1951.64
People
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French (Albi 1864 - 1901 Malromé)
Title
The Black Countess
Other Titles
Original Language Title: La Comtesse Noire
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1881
Culture
French
Location
Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on board
Dimensions
32.4 x 40.7 cm (12 3/4 x 16 in.)
framed: 42.5 x 53 x 7 cm (16 3/4 x 20 7/8 x 2 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: with monogram, HTL 1881
  • inscription: Bottom edge of frame (back), in black marker: 25
  • inscription: Verso, in graphite on white perforated paper: MKC / 394D
  • inscription: Verso, handwritten in blue pencil on white paper: TOULOUSE / LAUTREC
Provenance
Comtesse Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec; to M Séré de Rivières, sold; [through Knoedler Galleries, New York]; to Maurice Wertheim (1937-1951), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.


Notes:
Séré de Rivières was a cousin of the artist.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
1951
Object Number
1951.64
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Maurice Joyant, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1864-1901 (Paris, France, 1926), vol. I, pp. 52 and 254

XXIIIe exposition des artistes méridionaux, exh. cat., Palais des Arts (Toulouse, France, 1932), no. 2

Toulouse-Lautrec, paintings, drawings, posters; loan exhibition for the benefit of the Musée d'Albi, France, exh. cat., Spiral Press (New York, NY, 1937), no. 2

Jacques Lassaigne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Hyperion Press (London, England and New York, NY, 1939), p. 39

J. Rinaldini, Toulouse-Lautrec (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1942), no. 5, p 82, repr. in b/w fig. D

Edward Alden Jewell, French Impressionists and Their Contemporaries in American Collections, Hyperion Press (New York, NY, 1944), repr. p. 125

Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 64; repr. in b/w p. 30

French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), p. 20, repr. p. 21

Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Company (New York, NY, 1948), no. 25

La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), no. 9, pp. 25-26

[Unidentified article], Life [magazine] (May 15 1950), repr. in color

"19th and 20th Century Art", Think (September 1952), pp. 18-19, 32, repr.

M. G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec, Editions du Chêne (Paris, France, 1952), p. 5

Jacques Lassaigne, Lautrec, Skira (Geneva, Switzerland, 1953), p. 22

The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 54, repr. p. 55

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 50, pl. 20

G. Caproni and G. M. Sugana, L'Opera Completa di Toulouse-Lautrec (Milan, Italy, 1969), no. 65

Philippe Huisman and M. G. Dortu, Gli Impressionisti: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Fratelli Fabbri Editori (Milan, Italy, 1971), repr. in b/w p. 76

M. G. Dortu, Toulouse-Lautrec et son oeuvre (New York, NY, 1971), vol. II, no. P99, p. 49, repr. in b/w

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 36

John Coolidge, "Maurice and Cecile Wertheim", Fogg Art Museum Newsletter, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, March 1975), repr. p. 6

Vivien Raynor, "Art: Impressionist Show at the I.B.M. Gallery" [review], The New York Times (New York, NY, April 26, 1985), p. C24

G. Freisinger, "Second Impressions", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, May 1985 - June 1985), p. 39

Sandy Easterbrook, "Technical Examination and Comparison of Two Toulouse-Lautrec Paintings in the Wertheim Collection of the Fogg Art Museum" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 1985), Unpublished, pp. 1-28 passim

John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 15, pp. 78-80; repr. in color p. 79

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 131; repr. as no. 389

The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 21, p. 73

Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6

Oliver Wunsch, "Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's 'Black countess' Identified", The Burlington Magazine (October 2019), Vol. 161, No. 1399, pp. 840-845, pp. 840-845, repr. p. 841 as fig. 1

Exhibition History

Toulouse-Lautrec, Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York, 11/15/1937 - 12/11/1937

French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953

Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 04/08/1948 - 05/08/1948

La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952

French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972

Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985

The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990

Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu