The Suitor’s Gift
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Louis Léopold Boilly ( Lille 1761 - Paris 1845 )
Boilly was born in Douai in northern France but moved to Arras at the age of seventeen to receive instruction in trompe l’oeil painting from Dominique Doncre (1743-1820). Seven years later Boilly moved to Paris where he exhibited in the Salon between 1791 and 1824 - receiving a gold medal in 1804. As discussed above, his early works tended towards a preference for amorous and moralising subjects. The Suitor’s Gift is comparable to much of his work in the 1790s, which ‘dealt with the love and family life of the urban middle and upper classes’.² His small-scale paintings with carefully mannered colouring and precise detailing - as demonstrated in his execution of the trinket box in the present painting - recalled the work of Dutch seventeenth-century genre painters such as Gabriel Metsu (1629-1667), Willem van Mieris and Gerard ter Borch (1617-1681), of whose work Boilly owned an important collection.