Jean Baptiste Lemoyne II (1704-1778)
This bust represents the actress Colombe l'ainée (the elder), known as Mademoiselle Colombe, who was accepted as pensionnaire du roi at the Comédie-Italienne in 1773. Mademoiselle Colombe, born Marie Catherine Riggieri, was one of the most seductive and coquettish filles de l'Opéra. Réau reports that, according to popular rumor, she lived 'in the street of the Cloaca at Messalina's sign' and that a song was attributed to her: 'My greatest sorcery // Is the art of making others happy // of which sweet secret I am proud // As long as I can, I want to use it'. It is a graceful, seductive portrait that is full of life, which is not easily achieved, as is always the case with Lemoyne, who was certainly the most gifted portraitist of his time. The model seems to be taken by surprise by something that is happening to her left that attracts her gaze, making her turn her head slightly. It is an artifice that allows Lemoyne to capture a moment, offering the viewer a lifelike image, and gives the bust a sense of movement.