My Jean/ne: The Spirit of the Flowers Keep Watch > Spirit of the Flowers Keep Watch: Traces of an Explorer

Prince de Nassau-Siegen after Élisabeth Louise Vigée, ii
Prince de Nassau-Siegen after Élisabeth Louise Vigée, ii
digital photograph
16 x 20 in.
2023

Prince de Nassau-Siegen

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
1776
oil on canvas
oval 25 3/8 x 21 1/16 in.
Indianapolis Museum of Art. Indianapolis, Indiana


[Jeanne Baret Dubernat footnotes:]
Charles-Henri Nicolas Othon, Prince of Nassau-Siegen (1743-1808), was a paying gentleman passenger who traveled with Jeanne on her voyage around the world. Speculations abound that the Prince joined the adventure to escape gambling debts and that he wasn’t really a real Prince. Just a half-prince on his father's side. Yet Charles was friendly toward Jeanne and spoke admirably of her in his journal. During his voyage landings, his velvet frocks and elaborate powdered wigs confused many islanders. Many presumed the Prince was a she. But it was his words about Jeanne that stays with me:

"I want to give her all the credit for her bravery, a far cry from the gentle pastimes afforded her sex. She dared confront the stress, the dangers, and everything that happened that one could realistically expect on such a voyage Her adventure should, I think, be included in a history of famous women." -- Nassau-Siegen

Here in Le Brun’s portrait, the prince, surrounded by lush draperies, and other royal signifiers, points to Louis Antoine de Bougainville’s 1771 travelogue, Voyage Around the World. An early commission of Le Brun’s, the Prince is one of only a few small full-length portraits she painted.