Young Mulatto Woman, c. 1870
Oil on canvas, H. 0.93 m; W. 0.74 m
Provenance: Collection of the industrialist from Anjou, Julien Bessonneau
Private collection, France
A son of the military painter Hippolyte Lecomte who had married Camille, daughter of the famous artist, Carle Vernet, Émile Lecomte was therefore a nephew of Horace Vernet. He studied with his uncle before exhibiting for the first time at the Salon in 1843 with the name Émile Lecomte. Later he took the name Vernet-Lecomte. The Salon livrets refer to him as Lecomte-Vernet, a mistake that is repeated by several dictionaries of artists.
Vernet-Lecomte worked on a wide variety of subjects, society portraits, religious paintings (several commissions for Parisian churches) and Orientalist themes, the first of which were shown at the Salon in 1847. They are often bold compositions of very beautiful women, alone, such as the Young Syrian Woman Playing with a Panther, 1850, A Fellah Woman Carrying her Child, Egypt, 1864 or Young Maronite Woman, Asia Minori¸1867. With great skill he created portraits of North African women, often with a sculptural presence, as is the case with our painting.