France, ca. 1777
This work was probably exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1777 as the pair of The Astronomer, also belonging to the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Both paintings, oval-shaped, have clear similarities from a formal point of view.
Contributing decisively to the identification of the sitter was the contemporary testimony of Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780), an artist who made the annotation “Deux portraits sous le même numéro … dont ce lui de l’auteur” in the margin of the catalogue exhibit no. 17. The other work mentioned by Saint-Aubin refers to the representation of The Astronomer.
Lépicié was particularly at case in the field of realist portraits which, along with genre scenes, made his reputation. The calm intimacy of the composition falls into the best French tradition of the time and shows the influence of Jean-Siméon Chardin. The new status of the arts and the tendency to include man in his daily universe explain the diffusion of “au naturel” artist portraits, a category in which this work is included.
E. Tondu, 1865; Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild; Baroness David Leonino. Purchased to Baron Henri de Rothschild, in 1943.
90.8 x 71.5 cm
Dacier, E., Catalogues de ventes et livrets de salons illustrés par Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, IV, 1910
Dreyfus, Philippe-Gaston, Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint et dessiné de Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié, Paris, 1923, no. 85
Sampaio, Luísa, Pintura no Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 2009, no. 38, pp. 96-97.