The Artist’s Eldest Daughter Combing her Little Brother’s Hair
This beautiful painting has been attributed to the Antwerp painter Coques, famous for his group portraits, unusual in France in the mid-17th century. Imbued with the elegance of the art of Fontainebleau where he was born, Lefebvre was prompted by his master and landlord, Le Brun, to devote himself to portraiture. He painted another of his daughters in the same style, accompanied by her music master Charles Couperin (Versailles): there is the same magnificent colour, the same boldness of composition and characterisation as in a snapshot of the scene.
The painting presents his daughter Catherine who is affectionately combing the hair of her younger brother. A visitor (the spectator?) comes into the room and Catherine turns towards him unhesitatingly, her profile still reflected in a mirror placed behind her.
The lustrous effects of her elegant clothes, highlighted with gold ribbons and jewellery, enhance the radiance and freshness of the characters. The figures are bathed in an atmosphere of calm and sophistication. Given the age of the models, it is probable that the picture was painted in the final years of the painter’s brief life.