Cultured Wednesday: Fanny Corbaux

The girls took a book about the history of dolls home from the library one day.  It was a very interesting book with a lot more photos than text.  One doll the girls thought particularly interesting, and that was one that was fashioned after this painting:

the day before marriage
The Day Before Marriage, by Fanny Corbaux

Our oldest loved the painting because it was so beautifully detailed, and the youngest liked it for the pretty clothing.  Who, then, painted the painting?  It was Fanny Corbaux, a British lady, although her last name does not sound British at all.  Her full name was, in fact, Marie Françoise Catherine Doetger Corbaux, which throws one completely off when it comes to first names as well.  She is known as a portrait painter of the late Edwardian and early Victorian era, as well as being credited with inventing whitewash, also known as calcimine or lime paint.

Cinderella, by Fanny Corbaux

Fanny Corbaux was born in 1812 in Paris, to an English-born statistician and mathematician who had a French last name and spent much of his life abroad. Fanny was obviously very talented and developed her talent early, for when she received her first medals for an original portrait she painted and two copies, one of a water-color and one of an engraving, she was only 15 years old.  She continued to copy artwork and paint original pieces as well, in oil as well as water-colors, but eventually she gave up the former in favor of the latter and joined the New Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1839.

Leila, by Fanny Corbaux (1845)

By that time, she had already illustrated Thomas Moore’s Pearls of the East (1837), and in 1841 she did the same for Cousin Natalia’s Tales, both of which her sister lithographed.  Of these illustrations, a critic said she had “depicted oriental beauty in all its varieties of voluptuous languor and fascinating vivacity”.  Sounds like a compliment to me.

Gulnare, by Fanny Corbaux

Fanny Corbaux died at Brighton on 1 February 1883.

The Prado Madrid
The Prado, Madrid. By Fanny Corbaux

8 Replies to “Cultured Wednesday: Fanny Corbaux”

  1. I wasn’t familiar with Fanny Corbaux. Thank you for the introduction. I’ve never collected dolls but the book you mentioned also sounds interesting. I’m sure there is a lot of history to be found in dolls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry, but we have not been able to discern who sat for this painting. As it has been popular enough to be re-painted by Baxter later on, one has to wonder if its popularity was solely based on the painting itself, or possibly on the model. If you happen to find out more about her, please let us know, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂


      1. Various sources in our family believe it is the mother of Lesley Marian Valiant Cumming, known as May. May was my father’s great aunt and the inheritor of the Logie estate in Scotland from her mother. Her mother‘s name was Emily Francis Cumming who was married to Lockhart Muir Valiant Cumming, whose original portrait I possess. We also have a small Baxter print simply named “Baxter patent of printing Northampton Square 1843 to 1851.” The sources were her direct nephew and niece.
        I am doing work on my inherited paintings and was curious as to whether the sources are correct.
        Many thanks

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You definitely know a whole lot more about her than we do! Many thanks for sharing your information. How very interesting, indded. 🙂


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