The Artist's Wife in His Studio

A young woman, traditionally identified as Boilly’s wife, examines a large portfolio amid the clutter of the artist’s studio, which includes an unpainted canvas, a plaster cast of a hand, and sculptures by other artists. She looks up from her task as if either she or we have intruded. The violin hanging from the back of the chair hints at the relationship between artist and sitter—musical instruments sometimes appear in paintings as symbols of romantic love.

Louis Léopold Boilly

French, 1761–1845

The Artist's Wife in His Studio

c. 1795–99

Oil on canvas

16 x 12 15/16 in. (40.6 x 32.9 cm) Frame: 20 3/4 x 17 5/8 x 1 3/4 in. (52.7 x 44.8 x 4.4 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1925




Siegfried, Susan L. The Art of Louis-Léopold Boilly: Modern Life in Napoleonic France. Exhibition catalogue. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Kimbell Art Museum and National Gallery of Art, 1995.

Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.

Rand, Richard. Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in 18th-Century France. Exhibition catalogue. Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.