Dimensions : H. 45 x W. 31 inches (With frame: H. 53 x W. 40 inches)
Emile Villa was born in Montpellier on April 25, 1836. He was one of the great portrait painters of his time, but also a caricaturist and illustrator. Emile Villa also produced genre scenes and animal paintings such as the painting "The heron", which is in Montpellier at the "Musée Fabre".
In 1861, Villa entered the Paris School of Fine Arts, a pupil of Charles Gleyre and Auguste Glaize. From 1859 to 1882, he exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français, where he obtained distinctions, as well as at the 1889 Universal Exhibition.
His delicate subjects show Villa's love for 18th century France.
In this exceptional work of a particularly large format, Villa depicts two sumptuously dressed women in front of a wrought iron balcony. One of the young women confides in her friend who is holding an atypical object, very rarely depicted, and which is at the centre of an expression in the French language: a lark mirror. This object, a sort of spinning top encrusted with shards of mirror, was used to deceive birds; by turning in the sun, this object seen from the sky creates a glittering effect comparable to the water that larks seek.
The perfection of the composition, the care given to the taffeta dresses and to every detail, shows the virtuosity of this artist who has signed with this painting one of his most beautiful known masterpieces.
The state of conservation of the painting is excellent. The work is on its original canvas and no accident is to be reported. The pictorial material is solid, not epidermal, and well fixed to the support. The network of cracks is fine and continuous.
The frame is old, of good quality, in wood and gilded stucco.
Montpellier, Musée Fabre
E. Bénézit, édition Gründ, Tome 14, page 241.