Portrait of Marechal Duke of Richelieu
The Marechal Duke of Richelieu was the great-nephew of Cardinal Richelieu, King Louis XIV’s chief minister. The ceremonial clothing he wears in this portrait, made of white satin and silk, tells us that he had recently been admitted to the Order of the Holy Spirit. This portrait d’apparat, the name given to portraits in which the figure appeared surrounded by objects symbolising their status and power, occupied a central position in the painting gallery in Calouste Gulbenkian’s house in Paris.
What time is it? In the luxurious interiors of 18th-century France, clocks such as this one were status symbols for their owners. At their best, they provided the opportunity to display the artistic skills of their creators and craftspeople. Each of the fifteen clocks purchased by Calouste Gulbenkian is a perfect demonstration of those skills.
The gallery dedicated to European art from the 15th to the 17th centuries was also closed due to the renovation. It was thus necessary to remove the tapestries on display here, which illustrate the superb Italian textile production that reached its peak in the 16th century. In this work, titled ‘Fishing’, made after Giulio Romano, a group of cupids are enjoying themselves beside a brook in an idyllic landscape. During the renovation, these tapestries will be cleaned and studied, a process we hope to share soon.
What is Boulle furniture? Calouste Gulbenkian bought various pieces of ‘Boulle’ furniture for his collection. The creations of André-Charles Boulle, whom Louis XIV appointed ‘Master cabinetmaker to the king’, were notable for his use of a technique of applying metal and tortoiseshell to ebony to create decorative effects. This pair of armoires was attributed to the French cabinetmaker by the Museum. The doors are embellished with scenes from ‘Metamorphoses’ by Ovid, the 1st-century Roman poet.
Did you know that the creation and construction of a piece of fine French furniture required the involvement of several master craftspeople involved? With each artist responsible for a different part of the object, chairs such as this one were prime examples of their mastery. Here, the cabinetmaker George Jacob created the structure, while the upholstery was produced by the Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory.