Portrait Of A French Officer

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A provincial 19th-century portrait of a French officer proudly wearing the order of the legion of honour. He’s dressed in a black tunic with gold epaulettes, a red collar and gold buttons. We’ve discovered similar uniforms dating to the reign of Napoleon III (1852-1871).

His right hand is held under his tunic, which is a pose often associated with Napoleon I. However, it actually dates back to classical times and was considered to denote good breeding and ‘manly boldness tempered with modesty.’ As such, it’s often seen in 18th and 19th-century portraiture.

This particular gentleman was probably painted by an enthusiastic amateur - perhaps a colleague or friend. He’s looking quite comfortable and there’s an inkling of a smile.

The portrait is housed within what appears to be its original giltwood frame, which features foliate corners and a decorative inner border.

Medium
Oil on wood
Size including frame
11” x 13⅓” / 28cm x 34cm
Year of creation
c. 1860
Provenance
France
Condition
Craquelure, particularly in the lighter areas, but the paint layer is stable. Some scuffing around the edges due to framing. Frame with losses.