Sunday, 16 February 2020

Louis XVII by Ducreux

This beautiful pastel by Ducreux  is traditionally said to represent Louis XVII in the Temple prison shortly before his death in 1795. The picture came on the art market in 2004, when it was sold by Sotheby's in Paris.  


Sotheby's, Paris, 2nd December 2004, Lot 121
http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.121.html/2004/royal-provenancebrfurniture-works-of-art-paintings-and-drawings-silver-jewels-books-and-manuscripts-pf4020

Joseph Ducreux (1732-1802), Portrait of Louis XVII.
Pastel.  Oval,  43cm X 35cm.

Provenance:
 Probably no 21 in the Ducreux sale.
Collection of the duc Descazes (in 1901); sold at auction by his granddaughter, the Comtesse A. de Castéja in 1983, when it was bought by the current vendor.  Exhibited in the Petit Palais in 1901.

The work had an estimated value of 15,000€ - 20,000and sold for 15,600.

Sotheby's did not commit themselves to a date but, if this is indeed Louis-Charles, it clearly cannot date from 1794/5: the child depicted is much younger than nine or ten years old.  Despite Ducreux's famous drawing of Louis XVI before his execution, it is unlikely that the artist had privileged access to the Temple and its inmates; it is more natural to assume that he took the opportunity to sketch the King when he appeared in public during his trial.
See the comments on the Carnavalet website:
http://www.carnavalet.paris.fr/en/collections/louis-xvi-1754-1793

Neil Jeffares' meticulous documentation in the Dictionary of Pastellists, sheds a little more light on the Louis XVII portrait. Three, tentatively four, different versions are listed.  The original descriptions come from the sale of Ducreux's work by his family which took place in 1865.  Lot 20 appears in the sale catalogue as "Louis XVII, dauphin, painted chez Simon" whilst lot 21, probably the current picture, is described as: "Louis XVII, shortly before his death, his face slightly inclined and animated with a smile".  Ducreux's  great-granddaughter, who was responsible for the sale, presumably had access to the available information, but the accuracy of the listing still seems doubtful.

It is interesting to note that the sale included not only Ducreux's own work but pastels by his friend Greuze and by his teacher Quentin de La Tour, as well as a collection of royal memorabilia which Ducreux was reported to have "guarded with religious zeal".



Extract from the Dictionary of Pastellists:

There is no real doubt that the fine, expressive portrait is indeed by Ducreux.  Others of his pastels are comparable in style. See particularly, the study of an unidentified boy, sold by Christie's in March 2019, lot 22 in the 1865 catalogue.

Christie's "Lot Essay" reads as follows:
A pastel portraitist and painter of Marie-Antoinette, Ducreux produced several portraits of children which were left unfinished around the face, adding to the feeling spontaneity which emanates from his work. One of the more significant drawings is without doubt the Portrait of Louis XVIII  pictured as a child showing a hint of a smile, his facial features contrasting with the collar of his shirt and the bust which is barely depicted (private collection; see L.-A. Prat, Le Dessin français au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 2017, p. 242). A similar portrait by the artist of a young boy drawn on dark brown paper also in an oval format is at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (inv. 65.38.4; see Jeffares, op. cit., no. J.285.769)..
https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/joseph-ducreux-nancy-1735-1802-tete-dun-jeune-6193917-details.aspx


How about the date?

Another supposed portrait of Louis XVII which stands comparison with Ducreux's pastel is this one:


It was illustrated for the first time in The Lost Prince by John H. Hanson, a work written in 1854 in support of the American pretender Eleazar Williams. Hanson had seen the portrait in the Bryan Gallery in New York,  where the owner explained that it had come from the collection of  the French royalist Pierre Claude Prousteau de Montlouis (1761-1851), sold in Paris in 1851.

The reference checks out:  the catalogue of the 1851 Prousteau de Montlouis sale is on Gallica and the picture  may even tentatively be identified as Lot 81, "School of Greuze, portrait of Louis XVII, wearing a blue sash"
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5849602q


Interesting, Hanson immediately jumped to the conclusion that this too represented Louis-Charles in the Temple:
"It was evidently taken during his imprisonment in the Temple, as it bears tokens, in the emanciation of the form, and the pinched and painful expression of the features, of disease and suffering", (p.394-395)
https://archive.org/stream/lostprincefactst00hans?ref=ol#page/390/mode/2up
Xavier de la Roche in 1986, concurred with this assessment, and even identified the picture with the lost portrait by Béllanger (Louis XVII: des documents - des faits- des certitudes, p.504)

We do not have the key to the mystery.  I am not convinced the boy in the picture is actually particularly anguished.  If he is Louis-Charles at all, he not far in age from Brun's depiction of the dauphin with his rabbit. This portrait is certainly remarkably like the Ducreux.  


There is one final, rather different, picture to throw into the mix: 
This is an oil painting reproduced from Laurentie (1Laur110) said to show "Louis XVII, Simon and his wife" by Boilly.  Lenotre made a lot of this work and based his ideas of the warder Simon's appearance on it.  But, thinking of all those Ducreux memes which have lately appeared,  isn't Simon, with his silly stripey socks, awfully like Ducreux's self-portraits? 

http://jjric.free.fr/res5plein.img/1Laur110.jpg

See Lenotre, Romance of the French Revolution (1909) p.221/
https://archive.org/details/romancesoffrench01lenouoft/page/220/mode/2up/search/simon

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The Dauphin Louis-Charles: Drawings and painted portraits

There are literally hundreds of portraits of the little lost Dauphin Louis-Charles, Louis XVII, most of them of dubious authenticity. The most comprehensive catalogue remains François Laurentie's Louis XVII of 1913, a two volume limited edition work, aimed mainly at collectors and concentrating on pictures in private hands.  Dr. Richard Taws has remarked that Laurentie's work was a ""particularly sustained attempt to isolate authentic images in a culture in which, more than a century after his death, false portraits of Louis XVII circulate in the streets"(Taws, 2016, p.85).  This book is not available on the internet, but the plates and rubric are reproduced on the Musée Louis XVII website. My aim is only to pick out a few of the more interesting portraits and drawings mentioned there, or in Laurentie's summary article, L'iconographie de Louis XVII which is on Gallica. Some of these works have appeared on the art market recently, after the last update on the Musée Louis XVII site in 2000.

Laurentie's analysis has to be treated with a certain amount of caution.  The grandson of the Restoration legitimist journalist Pierre-Sébastien Laurentie, one of his aims was to refute false claimants to the identity of Louis XVII. This made him inclined to go further than the evidence really allowed in documenting details of Louis-Charles's physical appearance and his progressive decline into ill-health, "to fix the principal iconographic types of this blond child, with big blue eyes, a little large-headed, an exaggerated ear, and prone, of course, finally, to scrofulous rickets". (Taws, p.85).
  In reality the conclusions of this exercise are often extremely uncertain.



Early images

In the famous portrait of Marie-Antoinette and her children by Elisabeth Vignée-Lebrun at Versailles (1987) the infant Louis-Charles, aged two, is shown on his mother's knee, a doll with fair hair, big blue eyes and a rosy complexion. The picture is informative primarily for its details of the royal children's clothing.  The five-year old dauphin Louis-Joseph (born on 22nd October 1781) wears an costume "à la Marlborough" - short jacket, round open collar and long trousers.  Louis-Charles would have abandoned his dresses for a similar outfit at at about the time of his brother's death in 1789.  Laurentie identifies a first iconographic type  which shows him dressed in this way, with short jacket, trousers and with long hair.  (See L'Iconographie de Louis XVII, p.16-8.)

Examples include:
  • An engraving depicting the famous banquet of the gardes du corps (1st October 1789) in which the royal couple appeared with the child,  then aged four-and-a-half.  Possibly this one:
Detail of a contemporary engraving from Thiers, History of the French Revolution
  • A medal by Benjamin Duvivier, struck to commemorate the King's arrival in Paris in October 1789. 
  • An anonymous miniature in the Carnavalet - the original or an example of a widespread type - which shows Louis-Charles with a prominent nose and a central parting in his hair.
  • The bust by Deseine, dating from August 1790, when Louis-Charles still had a central parting in his hair.



Drawing by Moitte, undated (1790 or 1791)

1Laur26v

Portrait of the Dauphin by A. MOITTE. Drawing in coloured crayons (29cm x 23.5cm)

This portrait is often dated to the period of the Temple, since the eyes have a singular expression of sadness.  But the Dauphin did not have to wait for 1792 to be afraid and cry.  The form of the nose, the flare of the top lip, the chin, the haircut, relate it closely to the bust by Deseine, therefore to 1790.  Moitte's drawings of the child date between 1789 and 1792.  From the Moitte family.  Belonging to M. Henri Lavedan (in 1913)
See: L'iconographie de Louis XVII... (1913)  p.18: A "superb drawing in coloured crayons" by Moitte which belonged to Henri Lavedan and which reveals "a certain swelling of the upper lip" (ie. betraying characteristic Hapsburg features) 


This portrait appeared for auction with Drouot in 2015: [ the sale of the Alcide Beauchesne collection, though this lot was from a different seller]


Drouot,  16th November 2015. Noblesse et Royauté, Lot 159. 

https://www.gazette-drouot.com/lots/5462271

Attributed to Alexandre Moitte (1750-1828). Dated "about 1791".
Pastel on paper, with coloured crayons and white highlights in its original gilded wood frame.  41.5cm x 35.5cm.

"This work was attributed to Alexandre Moitte by François Laurentie in 1913 (L'Iconographie, p.18) when it was in the collection of Henri Lavedan (1859-1940).  Acquired by Lavedan from the family of the artist.  Sold in 1941 to Léon Lacroix, and resold in 1945; thence by inheritance to the present vendors." 


The estimate was €20,000 to €30,000, but the lot remained unsold.



 Moitte, The Dauphin at the Fête de la Fédération (July 1790)

This image by Moitte exists in different versions: a sanguine drawing, a watercolour and various prints.  Laurentie reproduced what looks to be a preliminary sketch. 



1Laur29v
Portrait of the Dauphin by A. MOITTE. Pencil sketch acquired directly from the Moitte family.  Height  6.8 cm, 1790. Belonging to M. Léon Masson (in 1913)
See: L'iconographie,  p.18: This "delicious sketch" by Moitte, shows Louis-Charles en homme, with a confident air and wearing long trousers.






1Laur69 
Portrait of the Dauphin in National Guard uniform by A. Moitte (about 14th July 1792).
Design in sanguine, drawn from life at the Tuileries. The National Guard Uniform is exactly right. It is known that the Prince-Royal wore it on the day of the Second Federation, 14th July 1792...This design was engraved in colour under the Legislative Assembly with the title "Hope of the French people"... Moitte himself later made a lithograph, an example of which exists in the Bibliothèque nationale.  See also I'Iconographie, p.22: the owner is specified as Charles Salomon.

I am baffled why Laurentie did not relate the sketch to the finished work, and also why the dating is so muddled: it is clearly documented that Marie-Antoinette dressed Louis-Charles as a National Guard for the first Fête de la Féderation in 1790.  This would seem the obvious occasion for Moitte to have made his study.

The sanguine portrait was acquired by the Palace of Versailles in 2017, having been previously sold by Swann Auction Galleries, New York, on  April 28, 2016
http://collections.chateauversailles.fr/#6367dfca-f065-46d4-8997-d98d363c2fba

Here is a nice watercolour version:
http://pictify.saatchigallery.com/242021/louis-charles-dauphin-of-france-1790-by-alexandre-moitte:




Portraits from Autumn 1790 to Summer 1792

Laurentie observed that by the Autumn of 1790, when Louis-Charles was just over five-and-a-half, his long hair was trimmed. For several months in 1790-91 it was very short indeed: the popular prints from the time of the flight to Varennes (June 1791) show him with a closely cropped round head. He was now often depicted in a jacket with lapels, sometimes in the national colours with blue with white and red trimming. (See L'Iconographie de Louis XVII, p.18-9.)

Laurentie wanted also to define a further distinct period, from the Autumn of 1791 to August 1792. As far as prints are concerned a fixed point was provided by the designation "Prince-Royal" which appeared only after Louis XVI's acceptance of the Constitution on 14th September 1791.  According to Laurentie, Louis-Charles now wore his hair longer again and from early 1792, as he approached seven years old, he discarded short jackets in favour of breeches and "ridingotes" (L'Iconographie, p.21-27).  However, I am not sure the dating of the pictures is really secure enough to sustain this degree of specificity.

The defining work from this era is the official portrait by Kucharski, which was possibly begun as early as August 1791, though the earliest extant versions are dated 1792. There is no direct evidence that any other portraits were posed for, although at this time the Dauphin was still visible to observers and the broad characteristics of his physiognomy would presumably have been known.  

There are a number of supposed portraits from these years attributed to major artists, notably Boilly [1Laur51] and Greuze [1Laur52] but these are of doubtful authenticity. The most interesting (?convincing) images from this time show Louis-Charles with his rounded head and short hair:





Portrait  in coloured crayons by Jean-Paul Lucas (1737-1808)

This picture belonged to M. Tausserat-Radel in 1913.  (L'Iconographie, p.21)  

The artist Jean-Paul Lucas (1737-1808), came from a family of artists and sculptors from Toulouse.

The drawing is dated  26th February 1792.  Laurentie described it as "sincere and a little clumsy".  He felt that the profile revealed  Louis-Charles's physiognomy -  a large, ill-placed ear, tall pointed skull and turned up nose.  These features are not apparent in the more idealised images of Greuze and Kucharski, or the miniatures of Dumont.  


There is an entry for this picture on the Musée Louis XVII website under "Fonds Coutin". I assume this is information was collated  by a Cercle Louis XVII member (Mlle Coutin?): not sure if this they had access to the actual drawing.
Drawing in coloured pencils (35cm x 25 cm). A label in pencil, recopied in ink,  on the reverse of the frame, reads: "Portrait of Louis Capet, by Citizen Lucas, in the year 1791, 26th February".  The term "Louis Capet" shows that the label is not contemporary.   We think it ought to read "1792". The child is wearing a "coat" which he did not do before 1791, whereas he is consistently represented in one in 1792.  Jean-Paul Lucas, died in Toulouse in 1808.  He was organiser of the Museum of Toulouse.
    This is one of the few images with a definite date, so it seems perverse to contest it  - I don't see why this picture should be later than February 1791 just because of the costume.






    Studies by the Louis-Auguste Brun (1758-1815)

    1Laur42 and 1Laur45

    The Swiss artist Brun was painter of the famous equestrian portrait of Marie-Antoinette. All that is  known for certain about his movements in the Revolution is that he left France to take refuge in Geneva at some time in late 1792. Tradition has it that he contrived to communicate with Marie-Antoinette in the Temple; caught carrying a letter to the émigré princes, he was saved from prosecution by his fellow artist, Jean-Louis Prieur.

    The first portrait is from an album belonging to a M. Panchaud (in 1913).
    The dauphin is shown as a young "gardener" with a rabbit in his arms. The short hair and the collared jacket suggest a date of summer 1791 (Iconographie, p.19-20).  


    See:Joseph Raymond Fournier-Sarlovèze, Louis Auguste Brun : peintre de Marie Antoinette, 1758-1815  (1911), p.126-30.
    https://archive.org/details/louisaugustebrun00fouruoft/page/126/mode/2up
    This biography reproduces the portrait, together with a portrait of Marie-Thérèse from the same album. There is no further information as to date.  


    Brun's pastel, reproduced in colour in
    the Dictionary of Pastellists 
    http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Brun.pdf

    Drawing, coloured in  pastel, attributed to Brun.

    This picture, not otherwise documented, belonged to Laurentie himself (in 1913). There is no date, but Laurentie puts it "towards the end of 1791".


    Louis-Charles is depicted in a jacket of national colours.  Larentie quotes Le Notre to the effect that artists no longer flattered princes and that the dauphin's expression already shows constraint
    .
    Following the historian Georges de Manteyer (1867-1948), Laurentie  made much of the dauphin's "enormous earlobe" (p.21) However, other features are clearly inaccurate, notably the black hair colour.







    A painted panel by the Dutch artist Nicolaes Muys (1740 -1808),  signed and dated 1791 

    2Laur8

    This picture, "newly rediscovered" in 1913, shows Marie-Antoinette and her two children in a garden reminiscent of Versailles.  Despite the element of fantasy, Laurentie was convinced that the work was based on preliminary sketches and notes from life; Louis-Charles is clearly recognisable from his colouring and haircut, and from the style of his clothes; the lily growing next to him is a symbol of royalty.
    This work too has been on the market recently.  It was sold by Christie's in London in 2000: the vendors were cautious and identified the subject only as a family group:


    Christie's, London, 7th July 2000, Old Master Pictures,  Lot 143.  
    https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/nicolaes-muys-rotterdam-1740-1808-a-group-1849396-details.aspx

    Nicolaes Muys (Rotterdam 1740-1808)
    A group portrait of a family in an ornamental garden
    signed and dated 'N.MUYS F. A: 1791.' (lower right)
    oil on panel
    34 x 27½ in. (86.4cm  x 69.8 cm.)
    In a Louis XVI carved and gilded frame with tied ribbon cresting above laurel leaf and berry swags

    The fact that the picture fetched £44,650 against an estimate of £25,000-£35,000 suggests that the purchasers thought that it represented the royal family.

    Provenance:   Private collection, France, since the end of the 18th century. Fischhof; sale, Petit Palais, Paris, 14 June 1913, lot 32, as 'Marie Antoinette and her children in the Park at Versailles'.

    See:
    Catalogue de tableaux anciens des écoles anglaise, flamande, française, hollandaise, italienne..., pastels et miniatures composant la collection de M. Eugène Fischhof 


    A note adds that the picture is completely unrecorded; it had been owned by the same family since the Revolution.  The owners preserved the  tradition that Muys used the work as a pretext to approach the royal family concerning arrangements for the flight to Varennes.  The date of the painting fits with this.  Albert Vuaflart, expert on the iconography of Marie-Antoinette,  felt that Muys had known his sitters and based his work on notes or sketches from life. 
    https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1249065w/f32.image



    Louis-Charles in Autumn 1792

    Miniature by Agathe Lemoine (dated 8th September 1792) 

    1Laur86

    This little image once belonged to Madame de Tourzel,and was in the possession of the duc de Blacas in 1913.

    Virtually nothing is known about the artist:
    Agathe Jeanne Thérèse Bonvallet (1753-1794), was the wife of the portraitist Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine (1751-1824)  No other work by her seems to be known.

    It is hard to say if this image has any documentary value: Laurentie commented that it showed the child's "Austrian" profile (L'Iconographie, p.22).  Louis-Charles is depicted in a long redingote with his hair tied in a ponytail.

    An engraving after the work was sold in the Beauchesne sale : 


    Lot 165 of Noblesse et Royauté, Drouot, 16 November 2015. Engraving after:
    "Miniature of Louis XVII in the Temple.  Painted by Agathe Bon. Lemoine le 8 Sept.1792". 5 cm.
    https://www.gazette-drouot.com/lots/5462277



    See the comments on the Forum Marie-Antoinette:
    https://maria-antonia.forumactif.com/t7002-portrait-de-louis-charles-duc-de-normandie-louis-xvi





    References

    François Laurentie,  L'iconographie de Louis XVII... (1913).  Monograph version of an article published in Revue de l'art, 1913 - 25 pages
    https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5699139x/f13.item
    A full survey, with photographs, was produced as a supplement to Laurentie's 1913 work Louis XVII: d'après des documents inédits.  The relevant text and illustrations are reproduced on the Musée Louis XVII website:
    "Fonds Laurentie", Musée Louis XVII.  [website created by Michel Jaboulay]
    http://musee.louis.xvii.online.fr/res5.htm

    Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists [online]. Various entries
    http://www.pastellists.com/

    Richard Taws, "The Dauphin and his doubles: visualizing royal imposture after the French Revolution", The Art Bulletin, March 2016, vol.98(1): p.72-100 [on JStor]

    Discussions on the "Forum Marie-Antoinette":
    Physical attributes of Marie-Antoinette's children, November 2014
    https://marie-antoinette.forumactif.org/t1519-le-physique-des-enfants-de-louis-xvi-et-marie-antoinette
    Various portraits of Louis-Charles,  in February 2015.
    https://maria-antonia.forumactif.com/t7002-portrait-de-louis-charles-duc-de-normandie-louis-xvi

    Monday, 10 February 2020

    Two royal portraits by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun



    Here are two works by Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun which have come on the art market in recent years. 

    1. Drawing of the Dauphin Louis-Charles, 1789 (?)


    The first is this stunningly beautiful drawing auctioned by Sotheby's in July 2007. [Sold for £21,600 against an estimate of £10-15,000].





    Old Master Drawings

    Sotheby's, London
    Date of the auction: 04.07.2007
    Lot 286.

    Black and Red chalk and graphite
    15 cm x 9.5 cm

    Dauphin, Later Louis XVII - 1789




    http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2007/old-master-drawings-l07040/lot.136.html













    The auction catalogue note attributed the portrait to Augustin Saint-Aubin, on the grounds that it is similar in technique to works such as his Portrait of a Woman, sold by Christie's in Paris, 21 March 2002, lot 286.  More recently it has become accepted as the work of Vigée Lebrun - notably on the authoritative EVB website maintained by Kevin Kelly, Charles Stein and their team.  See The Art of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun [website]: Drawings, 1789.
    https://www.batguano.com/vigeedrawings.html#N


    The identity of the sitter is more problematic. The catalogue note says the picture is  "traditionally described" as a portrait of Louis-Charles, the future Louis XVII, and this seems generally accepted.  However, it seems more likely that it represents his elder brother, the dauphin Louis-Joseph? 

    The dates certainly fit better: The most likely date for the portrait is 1786-87 rather than 1789;  according to her memoirs, EVB had a final sitting with Marie-Antoinette for the famous portrait of the Queen with her children, which was exhibited in the Salon of 1787, and at the same time made preparatory studies of the dauphin, Madame-Royale and the duc de Normandie.  Louis-Charles is still a toddler in this picture.  Even in portraits dating from 1789 he still has his characteristic long red hair (see below).

    Here are the other know EVB portraits of Louis-Joseph for comparison:



     Madame Royale and the Dauphin Louis Joseph, painted in 1784
    http://collections.chateauversailles.fr/#54002289-e8ed-4006-8d1e-8f1a264d5473

    Notice on The Art of EVB website:  1784 "Madame Royale and the Dauphin Louis Joseph," oil on canvas, 45 1/2" x 37 1/8" (115.5 x 94.3 cm), signed and dated lower right: L. Le Brun. f. 1784. Musée National du Château de Versailles. Chicago Art Institute Quarterly, 56:46, Autumn 1962; L’Oeil, Mar 1981, p. 40 (color); Baillio (1982), p. 50 (b&w); L’Oeil, 392:17, Mar 1988; Baillio (2015), p. 157 (color); Baillio (2016), p. 100 (color). Marie Thérèse Charlotte, Mme Royale, later the Duchesse dAngoulême, 1778-1851; and the first Dauphin Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François, 1781-89. See the Baillio (1982) description.



    Study of 1784
    Current whereabouts unknown? 
    https://www.batguano.com/xavier.jpg


    Detail from Marie-Antoinette and her children, 1787
    http://collections.chateauversailles.fr/#ac94af31-979e-4f0e-8582-ad5d0f1f3817

    Notice on The Art of EVB website:

    1787 "Queen Marie Antoinette and Her Children," 108 1/4" x 85 1/4" (275 x 216.5 cm), signed and dated lower left: L Vigée. Le Brun. 1787. Musée National du Château de Versailles. Antiques, Nov 1967, p. 710 (b&w); Baillio (1982), p. 80 (b&w); Baillio (2015), p. 159 (color); Baillio (2016), p. 120 (color); Iwona Danielewicz, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Poles (2016), p. 24 (color). {"1 Large painting of Queen Marie-Antoinette and her children."} {"I painted her head for the large canvas … as well as separate studies for the Premier Dauphin, the Madame Royale and the Duc de normandie." - Letter V; "It showed Marie Antoinette with the first Dauphin and Madame by her side and the Duc de Normandie on her knee." - Chap. XXXIV} [Referenced in Baillio (1982) as exhibited in 1787 at the Salon de l’Académie Royale, and also at the Salon of 1817.] [The empty cradle is a reference to Princess Sophie, who was born and died in 1786.]





    2. Portrait of  the duc of Normandie, the future Louis XVII and his dog Moufflet, about 1789



    Oil on canvas 60.5cm x 50 cm


    This painting was acquired by the Château de Versailles last year from the commercial art dealer Pierre Brost:

    Entry on the Pierre Brost website, with commentary by Joseph Baillio.
    http://art-courtage.com/fr/accueil/29-le-duc-de-normandie-avec-son-chien.html

    It previously belonged to the Alain Bancel collection auctioned in 2003.

    The picture is the only known surviving studio copy of "one of the most famous portraits of Louis XVII". The original was exhibited in the Salon of 1789, then placed in the room of Madame Elisabeth at Saint-Cloud, where it was burned and destroyed in 1794 by representatives of the Committee of General Security. 


    The scene represents Louis-Charles in 1789 when he became dauphin on the death of his elder brother (4th June 1789).

    According to Caroline Girard in the Tribune de l'Art:
    It depicts the touching figure of a little boy with a open expression, seated on a vine stock and holding a bunch of grapes.  He holds close to him his brother's dog Moufflet, which was given to him when he became dauphin.  As well as the "naturalism" characteristic of Vigée-Lebrun, the picture expresses the qualities expected of a future monarch.  The vine, the Biblical tree of life, only grows thanks to the care of the winegrower, and is the symbol of evolution, transcendence of self, the wine which changes into the blood of Christ.  The dog is a symbol of fidelity.  The landscape which opens behind the two companions promises a flourishing future for the young Louis-Charles;  nothing yet hints at his tragic destiny.
    Article of 03.06.2019.  Quoted on Amis de Louis XX, Facebook page
    https://www.facebook.com/AmisdeLouisXX/photos/le-ch%C3%A2teau-de-versailles-ach%C3%A8te-un-portrait-de-louis-xviile-futur-louis-xvii-et-/2437749829601739/

    Sunday, 9 February 2020

    The Dauphin Louis-Charles: by Kucharski

    Alexander Kucharski became painter to Marie-Antoinette when Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun emigrated in 1789.  In 1791 he was commissioned to paint the portrait of the dauphin Louis-Charles.

    Portrait of Louis-Charles, given by Marie-Antoinette to the baron de Breteuil
    (Getty Images: Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho, 2005)

    Madamoiselle Robaday, who was in charge of the prince's wardrobe, noted in her account book, now in the National Archives,  that on 8th July 1791 she paid the valet de chambre for a carriage to go "chez le peintre", presumably Kucharski.  Shortly afterwards she purchased  a "cane" similar to the one shown in the portrait.  As was customary, Kucharski was given a set of his sitter's clothes;  he retained a coat of shot silk and the cordon bleu which belonging to the Dauphin.   According to Jean Eckard, the outfit was sent to him shortly before 10 August 1792 so that he could finish the portrait for Mme de Tourzel that he was working on in his studio.  At the Restoration, his pupil Mme Barbot returned the clothes to the Duchess of Angoulême via the intermediary of the abbé Davaux.  

    The original portrait is thought to have been destroyed on 10th August.  However,  Kucharski produced numerous other versions, in oil, pastel, as well as miniatures.  A receipt shows that he received 600 livres from Mme de Touzel for one of these copies.  

    Marie-Antoinette ordered two additional paintings; one for Mme de Tourzel and one for the baron de Breteuil. The latter is now on display in the Château de Breteuil.  The pastel in the Petit-Trianon in Versailles, which once belonged to the Empress Eugénie, is generally considered to be a 19th-century copy; in Marguérite Jullet's view it dates only from the Second Empire. There were engraved versions by Manceaux and Hourdain - the latter specifies "Kucharski pinxit 1792".

    Laurentie, Plate 61. Oil painting 17.6cm x 14.6 cm. Signed "Kucharsky fecit 1792"
    A "Superbe portrait" which originally  belonged to Mme de Tourzel, then in the possession of her descendent Mlle de Montesquiou



    Pastel which once belonged to the Empress Eugénie: 
    62.3cm x 52.1cm. Versailles Collections 

    References

    "Le peintre KUCHARSKY",  Musée Louis XVII
    http://musee.louis.xvii.online.fr/kucharsky.htm

    "KUCHARSKI, Alexandre" in Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800 [online edition. Updated 12 Feb 2014]
    http://www.pastellists.com/Articles/Kucharski.pdf
    Jean Eckard,  Mémoires historiques sur louis XVII, 3rd ed.(1818), p.444-5
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6L5CAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA444#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Marguerite Jallut, "Kucharski, dernier peintre de Marie-Antoinette", in Revue d'Histoire de la Philosophie et d'Histoire générale de la Civilisation, Lille, juillet-décembre 1939, p.251-271.
    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k19346g/f61.image

    Thérese Poudade "Un dauphin peu cacher un autre", Carnets Louis XVII,  No 8: February 1996 p.11-22
    http://louisxvii.chez.com/Files/544_carnets_08.pdf
    This article puts forward the view that Kucharski's portrait might represent the Dauphin Louis-Joseph - but I'm not sure this idea has gained much favour.