Mid-18th-Century French School

Portrait Of A Gentleman With A Sealed Missive

Mid-18th-Century French School

Portrait Of A Gentleman With A Sealed Missive

This mid-18th-century French oil painting depicts a sophisticated gentleman holding a sealed missive.

With an enigmatic expression, he stands assuredly. Right hand held under his jacket - a symbolic reference to confident leadership. In his left, a letter impressed with his wax seal. He’s a man of words, spending countless hours corresponding - sharing thoughts, policies and philosophies.

His outfit resembles that of Louis Duval de l'Épinoy, Lord of Saint-Vrain, in a portrait by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (1704-1788). Duval de l'Épinoy was an advisor to King Louis XV, a controversial ruler with a poor legacy. Under Louis XV, who’d been King since the age of five, national policy suffered through a lack of decisive governance. Ministers schemed within their own circles and spies became an integral aspect of everyday court life. Chaos ensued while Louis retreated amid an entourage of lovers.

This particular gentleman was possibly a courtly chap during this time of stately decline. His smile suggests a deeper turmoil. How do you read the eyes?

Held in a gilt frame with foliate.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 32½” x 38” / 83cm x 97cm
Year of creation: c. 1750
Condition: Artwork presents well. One patched repair. Canvas relined. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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