Comtesse de Rambure
probably also: Marie de Bouillé (1844-1924)
one of the 6 impressionist women
Denvier and Rewald mention that during the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 there also was a Comtesse (=Countess) de Rambure exhibiting hc = hors catalogue = outside the catalogue. The critic Félix Fénéon remarked sarcastic: ‘The catalogue did not dare to mention her works.’ (R5,p151;R1,p523). This plural form ‘works’ indicates she showed at least two works. Fénénon his article in ‘La Vogue’ of 13-20 June 1886 was titled ‘Les impressionnistes (en 1886)’ (R2,p495), also to be found in his ‘Oeuvres’ published 1948 in Paris (R1,p544). Moffett doesn’t mention her (R2).
In a letter to Pissarro (1881/01/24) Caillebotte criticises Degas of bringing with him several realist artists: ‘In 1876 Lepic and Legros and Mme de Rambure, 1877, Moreau (meaning Maureau) and again Mme de Rambure.’ (R102,p275). Assuming this Mme de Rambure is the same as Comtesse de Rambure, this would mean that she also exhibited outside the catalogue in 1876 + 77!!! In none of the sources about Impressionism I have found this information. Note 1: Berhaut leaves Mme de Rambure out of his index (R102,p305). Note 2: Rewald who extensively sites this letter, leaves out Mme de Rambure (R1,p448).
When we look at the Salon database of musée d’Orsay (iR1) there is no result for Rambure; as far as I can see this also counts for her maiden name Bouillé. Wikipedia (=iR4) shows there is a château de Rambures (with an ‘s’ added), but around 1886 it was inhabited by a marquise instead of a comtesse, though the tittle of the family later became ‘comtesse’; see also the official website (aR4). Another webpage about this family (aR1=see) mentions that (Louise Amour) Marie de Bouillé (1844-1926) in 1864 married Charles Antoine de Rambures (1839-1930).
Other webpages mark that both spellings are used, so with and without an ‘s’ (aR2;aR3). So maybe this Comtesse de Rambure is the same as Marie de Bouillé, marquise de Rambures.
Anyway Comtesse de Rambure is the 6th woman exhibiting with the Impressionists, together with Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Marie Bracquemond, Jacques François (pseudonyme) and Comtesse de Luchaire who exhibited hc in 1874 (R2,p123).
The article (aR1) starts with: ‘In 2009 an exceptional exhibition at the Château de Rambures in Picardy was dedicated to “Marie, an artist marquise of the 19th century”, thanks to the numerous archives discovered in the furniture of the château, archives which have since joined the departmental archives in Amiens where they can only be consulted on request from the owners of the château, great-grand-nephews and heirs of Charles Antoine de La Roche Fontenilles, Marquis de Rambures, who died in 1929 without posterity, after his wife Marie de Bouillé. (…) According to the articles and documents on the Marquise that could be found on the Internet in 2009-2010, the Marquise was a very cultured woman, passionate about painting and photography, who would have accompanied her husband, an ambassador, to several countries. When she was in France she divided her time between her private mansion in Abbeville, Paris and the Château de Rambures. (…) Marie de Bouillé, born on February 1, 1844 in Petit-Bourg (Guadeloupe), was named Louise Amour Marie. As very often in the West Indies, it is the last name, and not the first, which is the “customary name”. ‘ (aR1)
In the same article there is a painting of the Spanish painter Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (1815-94) titled ‘Louise Amour Marie de la Roche-Fontenilles, marquesa de Rambures’ which is now in the Prado in Madrid (see picture =iR2). On this picture she is painting.
The Prado writes (aR5):
‘Louise Amour Marie de Bouillé was the last descendant of a noble family living in the French Antilles. She was born in 1844 and married in April 1864 the French Count Charles Antoine de La Roche-Fontenilles, who also used the title of Marquis de Rambures – not without controversy among his family, for taking it by the feminine way against the Gallic noble customs – from the date of his marriage. The Marquise de Rambures acknowledged that she lived in the French Embassy in Spain when she went as a copyist to the Prado Museum 1871/11/13 onwards, the year in which this painting could be dated. Thus, the portrait would be approximately twenty-eight years old, which seems to coincide with the appearance of the woman represented on the canvas. She must have been an active and restless woman, since it is known that, in addition to devoting herself to painting, at the end of her life she became interested in currents of Christian thought with naturalistic claims that led her to publish in 1899 ‘L’Église et la pitié envers les animaux‘, a compilation of religious texts on nature that was printed in several editions. It is not surprising, therefore, that Federico de Madrazo, director of the Prado Museum for many years, was attracted by the personality of such an exceptional copyist, whom he surely met not only at the Madrid art gallery, but also at the French embassy parties, where the painter was a regular visitor.
(The influential portrait painter would also have seen how between 1860 and 1880 other French amateurs arrived at the institution, often participating in an ambitious government project in France that sought to disseminate the masterpieces of Spanish painting in the country’s artistic learning centres for educational purposes. To do this, they relied mainly on modest copies that were sometimes commissioned by the State and sometimes offered to the State by their modest authors at prices that on their own did not compensate for the effort of the journey. ) It is possible that the Rambures took part in this great project, but it would not be strange that the Marquise made the copies on her own initiative, as part of the sophisticated entertainment to which some European ladies of her generation were assiduous. (The portrait of the Marquise de Rambures is unusual in Federico de Madrazo’s production because it offers an intermediate stage between the pointing of the natural and the finished small format portrait, made in a brief session and with the intention of being given as a gift to the portrayed person. Sitting down, almost in profile, she prepares to paint on a canvas as Tomasa Palafox did more than seventy years ago in Goya’s famous painting now in the Prado Museum (P2448). Madrazo was mainly concerned with modelling the lady’s head with a few very light strokes; the delicate intonation of the portrait, which underlines the languor of the Marquise’s features, also serves to give the work an intimate and strictly private tone, to which the evening lighting contributes. The background is only hinted at around the head, but with the specifics of the master and the scratches suggested by the Marquise’s hands show how Madrazo posed the figure with just a few brushstrokes, without using any previous drawing )
Comtesse de Rambure, a short biography:
- 1844/02/01: Louise Amour Marie de Bouillé was born in Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe (aR1,p3); at another page her date of birth is mentioned the 6th (aR1,p7); she was the only child (daughter) (aR1,p6)
- 1840-49: het father Jules François Amour de Bouillé was mayor of Guadeloupe (aR1,p6)
- sometime afterwards the family moved to Paris (aR1,p6)
- before her marriage she probably lived with her parents at 17,Rue de l’Oratoire (aR1,p5)
- 1864/04/26: Marie de Bouillé marries Charles (Antoine) comte de la Roche Fontenilles, also called marquis de Rambures (1839-1930) (aR1,p5)
- 1871/11/13 onwards: copies at the Prado, her husband being an ambassador in Madrid (aR5)
- 1876: Mme de Rambure exhibited at the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition; she was invited by Degas (R102,p275)
- 1877: Mme de Rambure exhibited at the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition (R102,p275); she was not in the catalogue (R2)
- 1866: Comtesse de Rambure exhibited at the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition (R5,p151;R1,p523); she was not in the catalogue (R2)
- 1886/06/13-20: Fénénon shortly mentions her in a review (R5,p151;R1,p523)
- 1899: Mme la marquise de Rambures publishes ‘L’Église et la pitié envers les animaux‘ (aR9;aR7;aR5)
- 1924/03/26: she died in Hyères (aR1,p7)
- 2009: exhibition at château de Rambures in Picardie (aR1,p1;aR4;aR8)
My main sources are Rewald (1873=R1), Moffett (1986=R2), Denvir (1993=R5), Berhaut (1994=R102), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR4) and the additional references (=aRx). For other general references (=R) see and the references to internet pages (=iR) see.
- ghcaraibe.org (an article about Marie de Bouillé, marquise de Rambures)
- pcd.Wikipedia.org (spelling of Rambure)
- geni.com (spelling of Rambure)
- www.chateau-rambures-picardie.fr (official site)
- prado.es (link to the painting of Madrazo)
- the-athenaeum.org (link to the painting of Madrazo=iR2)
- amazon.com (link to her publication of 1899)
- debam.over-blog (blog referring to the 2009 exhibition)
- gallica.bnf.fr (her publication of 1899)