Lafontaine-Saran, Marceline Emilie - self portrait

Self-portraits always seem special and this miniature self-portrait on enamel by Marceline Emilie Lafontaine-Saran is no exception.

There are several self-portraits in this collection, but this is the only one painted in enamel. Painting in enamel is an especially demanding technique, as the colours need to be applied separately and they change colour during the process of firing in a kiln.

It is signed Emilie Lafontaine 1885 on the front when she would have been 46 years old. The reverse is inscribed in French, but translates into English as, "Portrait of Mme Emilie Compant-Lafontaine, nee Saran pinx".

Emilie was born in Geneva on 23 March 1839 and died there on 25 October 1892. Schidlof records that she painted on enamel and that a miniature portrait by her, of her husband, Leonard Francois Compant-Lafontaine is in the Geneva Library. It sounds as if that was painted in 1872 and is therefore a companion portrait to the one of her as depicted here. And that of her husband was perhaps one of those exhibited by her at shows in 1874, 1878, and 1883.

Separate references state that she married him in 1870, describing him as a "magnetiseur" which translates as magnetiser, mesmerist, or hypnotist. See;

Geneva (Switzerland). Musée d'art et d'histoire, Société auxiliare du Musée de Genéve, Bibliothèque publique et universitaire de Genève - 1936 -
Charles-L.-F. Compant-Lafontaine, auteur d'ouvrages sur le magnétisme, décédé en 1892. — Peint sur émail par M7"" Compant-Lafontaine née Saran en 1872, donné par elle en 1894. Env. 5,5 x 7,5 (ovale).

So far no reference to her husband as a hypnotist has been located. 1433

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