Portrait bust of Robbé de Beauveset
Jean Baptiste II Lemoyne
This is a portrait of the poet Pierre-Honoré de Beauveset (1714–1792), who was fifty-one years old at the time. He is represented with great realism, as if in a photographic snapshot. The poet, turning his head with an alert gaze, is caught mid-expression, reflecting a direct and lifelike interpretation of a fleeting moment. Unlike the posed portraits that were common at the time, Lemoyne’s portraits have a unique theatrical quality. In the case of Robbé de Beauveset, Lemoyne managed to convey certain aspects of his character, notably his hauteur and sense of irony.
Lemoyne had a long and successful life. He concentrated not only on portraits but also on sculpted monuments, almost all of which were sadly destroyed during the French Revolution. Due to their smaller size, the busts fared better against iconoclastic vandalism. As Louis XV’s official sculptor between 1730 and 1773, Lemoyne produced between 130 and 170 busts of the King, at an average of three or four per year.
Desfriches Collection (mentioned in the 1778 inventory); Alexandre Dumas, fils Collection; Sale of the Alexandre Dumas Collection, 1896, lot 155; Jacques Doucet Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian, through Graat et Madoulé, at the sale of the Jacques Doucet Collection, Georges Petit Gallery, Paris, 6 June 1912 (lot 117).
H. 40 cm; W. 30 cm; D. 24 cm
Paul Ratuis de Limay, Aignan-Thomas Desfriches (1715–1800). Paris: H. Champion, 1907, p. 117.
Stanislas Lami, Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l’Ecole Française au Dix-Huitième Siècle. Tome deuxième. Paris: 1911 (Nendeln/Liechtenstein, Kraus reprint, 1970), pp. 57–65.
Paul Ratouis de Limay, 'Le Buste du Poète Robbé de Beauveset par J.-B. Lemoyne', Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art Français, February 1912, p. 65.
Louis Réau, Une Dynastie de Sculpteurs au XVIIIe Siècle. Les Lemoyne. Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, 1927, pp. 104–5, 130, 151, cat. 120, pl. LXIII.
Haavard Rostrup, Franske Portraetbuster fra der XVIII Aarhundrede. Kobenhaun: Levin & Monksgaards Forlag, 1932, p. 134, pl. XLVII.
Louis Réau, J.-B. Pigalle. Paris: Editions Pierre Tisné, 1950, p. 182, no. 9.
Maria Rosa Figueiredo, French Sculpture. Catalogue of European Sculpture, vol. I. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1992, pp. 56–9.