Presumed Portrait of the Duc de Choiseul and Two Companions

Object Details

Title:

Presumed Portrait of the Duc de Choiseul and Two Companions

Artist/Maker:

Jacques Wilbaut (French, 1729 - about 1816)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1775

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

88.9 × 110.8 cm (35 × 43 5/8 in.)

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The Duc de Choiseul, seen on the left, lived large. Through industry and intrigue, he rose to become the most powerful person in France after King Louis XV, amassing a great fortune and spending it extravagantly on, among other things, an outstanding collection of paintings. Choiseul helped launch the career of Hubert Robert, whose father was Choiseul's father's valet, by finding him a post as cook in the Académie de France in Rome. Choiseul was once characterized as "a wonderful mixture of selfishness and charm and recklessness and exquisite taste." In 1770 Louis XV fired the duke, who retreated to the Choiseul estate, Chanteloup, in the Touraine region of central France.

Here, the dedicated womanizer Choiseul is shown in exile with his mistress Madame de Brionne and the Abbé Barthélemy, the learned curator of the king's collection of antiquities and a close friend and adviser of the duke and his duchess. Jacques Wilbaut painted the trio in an informal moment at the duke's château. Against a relatively simple backdrop, Wilbaut showcased the elegance of their clothing while capturing the tenderness and genuine affection they shared for one another.

Provenance
about 1760s - 1785

Étienne-François, duc de Choiseul-Stainville, French, 1719 - 1785 (Château de Chanteloup, France), commissioned from the artist, 1760s; by inheritance within the Choiseul family, 1785.

1785 - about 1963/1965

Choiseul Family, sold to G. Heim-Gairac, about 1963/1965.

about 1963/1965 - 1968

G. Heim-Gairac, died 1968 (Paris, France), sold to Clifford Duits, 1968.
Source: Duits Gallery records, Getty Research Institute.

1968 - 1971

Clifford Duits (London, England) [unsold, Duits sale, Christie's, London, July 17, 1970, lot 217; withdrawn, Duits sale, Christie's, London, January 29, 1971, lot 125; sold, Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1971, lot 115, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Bibliography

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Pictures by Old Masters. July 16-17, 1970, pp. 58-59, lot 217, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Important Old Master Paintings. December 8, 1971, pp. 82-83, lot 115, ill.

Scott, Barbara. "The Duc de Choiseul, a Minister in the Grand Manner." Apollo 97, no. 42 (January 1973), pp. 52-53, ill.

Davis, Frank. "Rise and Fall of a King's Favourite." Country Life (December 8, 1977), p. 1736, ill.

Ratzki-Kraatz, Anne. "An Expensive Affair: The Cost of Elegance in Eighteenth-Century France and Italy." The Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club 70, no. 1 (1987), pp. 2, 4, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 136, ill.