Object Details




Charles-Antoine Coypel (French, 1694 - 1752)






Pastel on paper


98.1 x 80 cm (38 5/8 x 31 1/2 in.)

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Wearing the official academy costume--a brown velvet waistcoat, lace shirt, and long powdered wig--the French artist Charles-Antoine Coypel gracefully turns towards the viewer. When he made this half-length self-portrait, Coypel was forty years old and already a full professor at the Académie Royale in Paris.

With an open-handed gesture, Coypel presents both himself and his work to the viewer. He stands against a portfolio containing colored paper; underneath, a silver holder contains sharpened pieces of chalk, the medium essential to his profession. Written on the portfolio is a dedication: "Charles Coypel has painted himself for Philippe Coypel, his brother and his best friend, 1734." Coypel's younger brother was a valet de chambre to King Louis XV, so the picture served also as a tool for self-promotion. Displayed in the Philippe's house, the self-portrait would have boldly presented the confident image of Charles to the powerful members of the king's inner circle.

A brilliant portraitist, Coypel excelled in the medium of pastel. He first drew a detailed underdrawing lightly in pencil, then made crisp outlines using a sharpened pastel crayon. The soft, harmonious coloring completes the work and conveys the differences in texture between his thick velvet waistcoat, the gossamer white lace, and the smooth and shiny buttons.

1734 -

Philippe Coypel (Paris, France)

- 1927

Christiane de Polès, died 1936 [sold, Mme. de Polès sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 22, 1927, lot 7, to Marius Paulme.]

1927 -

Paulme (possibly Marius Paulme)

- 1941

M.L. Brisbois [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 21, 1941, lot 6.]

- 1954

Private Collection [sold, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, May 28, 1954, lot 72, possibly to a private collector.]

possibly 1954 - 1994

Possibly Private Collection (Paris, France)

1994 - 1997

Private Collection (Paris, France), sold through Marc Blondeau (Paris, France) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997.

Pastels français du XVIIème et du XVIIIème siècle (May 23 to June 26, 1927) (Cat. 12)
  • Galerie Charpentier, Paris, May 23 to June 26, 1927

Dacier, Emile, and Paul Ratouis de Limay. Pastels français du XVIIème et du XVIIIème siècle (Paris and Brussels: G. van Oest, 1927) p. 45, no. 12, ill.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Objets d'art et de magnifique ameublement du XVIIIe siècle, tableaux, aquarelles, dessins, gouaches, pastel [...] composant la très importante collection de Madame de Polès. June 22-24, 1927 pp. 8-9, lot 7, ill.

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Tableaux Anciens [...] oeuvres importantes [...] dessins, gouaches, pastel [...]. May 21, 1941 pp. 6-7, lot 6, ill.

Limay, Paul Ratouis de. Le Pastel en France au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Éditions Baudinière, 1946) p. 28.

"Coypel, Charles-Antoine." In Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays. Emmanuel Bénézit et al., eds. Rev. ed. Vol. 2 (Paris: Gründ, 1949) pp. 706, 707.

Galerie Charpentier, Paris. Tableaux modernes, dessins, aquarelles, pastels [...] tableaux anciens, dessin, gouaches, pastels [...]. May 28, 1954 unpaginated, lot 72, ill.

Compin, Isabelle. "Un Portrait de Charles-Antoine Coypel au Musée du Louvre." La Revue du Louvre 19, no. 2 (1969) p. 97.

Zafran, Eric M. "Charles-Antoine Coypel's Painting Ejecting Thalia." Apollo (April 1980) pp. 280-87.

Lefrançois, Thierry. Charles Coypel (Paris: Arthena, 1994) pp. 13, 136-37, no. I.3, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 29, ill.

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "Sur le campus du Getty Center." Connaissance des arts no. 545 (June 1997) p. 118, ill.

Stein, Perrin, and Mary Tavener Holmes. Eighteenth-Century French Drawings in New York Collections, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, 1999) p. 60, under no. 26, ill., entry by Mary Tavener Holmes.

McCullagh, Suzanne Folds. " 'A Finesse of the Crayon': Eighteenth-Century French Portraits in Pastel." Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 32, no. 2 (2006) p. 96 n. 8.

Education Resources

Education Resource




Looking at Portraits: Looking at One's Self

Students examine Charles-Antoine Coypel's Self-Portrait and understand what he shows in this work.

Visual Arts


Two-Part Lesson