19th Century Conte Portrait Drawing of Zofia, Countess Potocka (Poland)


This arresting conte drawing is a wonderful portrait of a Polish noblewoman, Zofia, Countess Potocka (1760-1822). This drawing is after a late 18th-century pastel by an unknown artist. (Pastel possibly by Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, French, 1755 - 1842. Pastel formerly attributed to Anton Graff, Swiss, 1736 - 1813. Pastel formerly attributed to Alexander Kucharsky, Polish, 1741 - 1819. Pastel formerly attributed to Salvator Tonci, Italian, 1756 - 1844.) The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an 1872 Etching and Engraving of this portrait published by E. H. Schroeder, German, and printed by Otto Felsing, Berlin.

The conte drawing of this remarkable woman is in a period gilded frame with antique glass. French or Polish, it is signed RG lower right. The frame is 51 cm by 66 cm. Sold by the French art dealer Michel-Witold Gierzod.

Starting life as an underage courtesan in Istanbul, Zofia rose to become the wife of the richest magnate in Poland-Lithunaia. She has been described as the "most beautiful woman in Europe". She came form poverty, was deflowered at eleven, after which her parents took her to Jerusalem for a Pilgrimage. Following this, she was married to a French man in Istanbul. Her husband fled his creditors, her father died and the family house burned down. At 17 she escaped the palace of a lesbian relative of the Sultan. Through a liaison with a Polish diplomat she moved to Poland. Around 1780 she married major Joseph de Witte, who took her around Europe and she met and bewitched EVERYONE. She had two children before her divorce after which she married the Count Potocki. The Count's and Zofia's children also led wildly adventurous lives. After a life of wealth, glamour and scandal she died in Berlin in 1822, aged 62.

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