Highly esteemed in his time, Louis Ferdinand Elle was a court painter for Louis XIV. He was elected in 1648 as one of twelve founding members of the Académie Royale. In 1639 his subject Francois Bertaut married Nicolas Langlois, Lord of Mauteville. She was a friend and confidante of Anne of Austria, mother of Louis XIV. The wealthy widow lived at court from 1643 until the Queen’s death in 1666. She then retired to the Convent of the Visitation at Chaillot (where she had been a lay member of the order), remaining there until her death in 1689. The portrait represents Madame de Mauteville standing in a rich, silken dress with a diaphanous veil, which denotes modesty. On a table at her side stands a small crucifix. Adjacent is the book she has just put down, which is inscribed “SAINT GERAUME.” The formal pose, austere composition, and muted tonality – more expected in a religious than a secular commission – underscore the pious presentation of the subject.