Delva de Dalmarie, Anne Justine Angèle

« The Lakou
La Comtesse Noire / The Black Countess Artist
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Collection: Harvard Museum
Source: Gallery Text / Harvard Museum.

The Countess de Delva

“This painting has posed a puzzle since it entered the Wertheim Collection in 1937. It was known that Toulouse-Lautrec created it while he was still a young artist, but the identity of the black woman at the center of the composition remained a mystery. She was sometimes said to be a countess the artist had seen while spending the winter in Nice, then a seasonal resort community for affluent French families. An archival discovery in 2019 revealed that she is likely Anne Justine Angèle Delva de Dalmarie. A member of the Haitian aristocracy who had emigrated to France, she was famous in Paris and Nice for her lavish parties. The clothing of the man beside the countess suggests that he is her coachman, a sign of her affluence. The countess, though, has taken the reins, speeding along Nice’s sunny shoreline while a dog gives chase.”

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