Portrait of Louis de Silvestre

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of Louis de Silvestre

Artist/Maker(s):

Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704 - 1788)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1753

Medium:

Black and white chalk, blue and rose pastel on faded blue paper

Dimensions:

32.5 x 21.4 cm (12 13/16 x 8 7/16 in.)

See more

See less

. . . the clarity of the cold carnation of the old skin, the creases of the smile, the folds made by the passage of time; the powerful pleating of the forehead . . .

The Goncourt brothers, influential art critics and collectors, were truly moved by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour's portrait of the director of the Académie Royale, Louis de Silvestre. Other painters and draftsmen had produced formal portraits of this important figure, but none captured de Silvestre as frankly and naturally as in this preparation for a more elaborate pastel, now in the collection of the Musee Antoine-Lécuyer, St. Quentin, France.

De Silvestre appears in an unguarded moment without his wig. The scarf tied around his head suggests he is working in his studio. La Tour candidly recorded his 73-year-old subject's blood vessels, wrinkles, and moles, giving De Silvestre realistic human qualities that formal portraiture of the period did not often capture. He and La Tour were friends, which also contributes to the intimacy of the portrait. Made seven years before de Silvestre's death, this drawing strikingly conveys the physical effects of age.

Provenance

Camille Groult, 1837 - 1908

Private Collection, (Paris)

November 28, 1978

Ader Picard Tajan, (lot 8)

Exhibitions
Casting Characters: Portraits and Studies of Heads (November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 4, 2003 to February 1, 2004, (Cat.)
Carmontelle's Transparency: An 18th Century Motion Picture (March 14 to June 18, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 14 to June 18, 2006, (Cat.)
Ten Years of Drawings: What, How, and Why (January 29 to May 4, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 29 to May 4, 2008, (Cat.)
The Secret Life of Drawings (November 23, 2010 to February 13, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 23, 2010 to February 13, 2011, (Cat.)
Images of the Artist (November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 15, 2011 to February 12, 2012, (Cat.)
Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Portrait of Louis de Silvestre (Exhibit: Images of the Artist)