Portrait of Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal de Richelieu

Artist/Maker(s):

Simon Vouet (French, 1590 - 1649)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1632 - 1634

Medium:

Black, white and red chalk and pastel

Dimensions:

27.3 x 21.1 cm (10 3/4 x 8 5/16 in.)

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Known both as an astute politician and a connoisseur of the French arts, Cardinal de Richelieu controlled much of France's political and artistic sphere in the 1600s. Simon Vouet drew him in his cardinal's robes while clasping in his hands a letter, an attribute of his life as an official of the Church and the State. Richelieu's direct, incisive gaze holds the viewer's eyes and attention.

King Louis XIII commissioned Vouet to produce a series of some thirty portrait drawings of noblemen, artists, and officers of the court in colored chalks on light brown paper. In this highly finished example, Vouet used a combination of red, black, and white chalk. The red chalk shows off the brilliant color of the cardinal's cape and hat, while the white creates soft highlights in his hair and collar. Black chalk lines behind the cardinal give the figure added weight and depth. Finally, layers of pastel on top of the chalk give the surface of the drawing added richness and texture.

Provenance

Private Collection

July 14, 1996

Drouot Richelieu, lot 15

Exhibitions
An exhibition of Old Master Drawings (May 7 to July 11, 1997) (27)
  • Otto Naumann, Ltd., New York, May 7 to May 24, 1997
  • P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., London, June 2 to July 11, 1997
Recent Additions to the Drawings Collection (August 3 to October 1, 1999) (27)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 3 to October 1, 1999
Posing for Posterity: Portrait Drawings from the Collection (October 30, 2001 to January 20, 2002) (27)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 30, 2001 to January 20, 2002
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004) (27)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004