Elégante regardant un portrait miniature by Michel Garnier

Before 1792.

Garnier was one of the most successful of the petits maîtres who flourished during the fading days of the Ancien Régime and who depicted the lifestyles and morals of the upper/middle classes. Worked in a small format, his paintings are full of exquisite, fashionable furnishings and costume, his often doll-like figures going about their days in very chic Parisian interiors; the pursuit of love and its complications are the dominant themes here. (Indeed, many of his paintings carry a frankly erotic charge.) The narratives of his tableaux are rooted in the Rococo, but the often self-consciously dramatic poses of the characters, their arrangement in a relatively shallow pictorial plane, and the precision of detail and the purposeful treatment of light are a product of the Neoclassical; in fact, his work is an unlikely blending of these two radically different artistic movements.
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