Photo de stock - Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord (1754-1838), Prince de Bénévent. Artist: baron François Gérard (French, Rome 1770-1837 Paris); Date: 1808; Medium: Oil on canvas; Dimensions: 83 7/8 x 57 7/8 in. (213 x 147 cm); Classification: Paintings; Credit Line: Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, 2012 / Talleyrand commissioned this elegant informal portrait after he resigned from his position as minister of foreign affairs to protest Napoleon´s continuing military ambitions. Gérard knew and received him personally in his studio: the imposing presence and unrevealing expression are typical. The insignia of the Legion d´honneur is embroidered on Talleyrand´s coat and across his waistcoat is the red sash of the Grand Cordon of the order, awarded in 1805. He also wears the emblem of the Golden Fleece, presented to him at the Congress of Vienna, and added to the picture by Gérard in or after 1815.; Catalogue Entry: The sitter, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord (1754-1838), prince de Bénévent, was arguably the greatest politician and diplomat in modern French history. As Foreign Minister and Grand Chamberlain of the Empire, he was one of the most trusted advisors of Napoleon´s inner circle. In 1807 he resigned his ministerial position to protest Napoleon´s continuing military ambitions, assuming instead the title of Vice Grand Elector. Yet his skills were such that he retained significant authority and his power grew inexorably: he accompanied Napoleon to the Congress of Erfurt in 1808, represented France at the Congress of Vienna following Napoleon´s defeat in 1814-15, and served every subsequent sovereign for the remainder of his life. Talleyrand was personally acquainted with Gérard and often visited his studio. The painter´s career paralleled that of his patron: his services were highly regarded under every French government from the Ancien Régime onward. He even managed to outlast his teacher Jacques Louis David, the leading Neoclassical painter of the Revolution and Empire who became persona non grata under the Restoration for having participated in the execution of Louis XVI in 1793. In this informal full-length portrait, Talleyrand keeps his own counsel: his expression is self-contained, close-lipped, and private. He is shown seated in an armchair with legs crossed and his left arm resting on a writing desk, his hair lightly powdered. He wears black satin breeches with white silk stockings, black slippers, a court sword, and a coat and waistcoat of blue velvet, both with very high collars and lined in white satin. His costume is relatively informal, as the coat, with wide cuffs and large buttons, is unembroidered except for the order on his left breast, the insignia of the Legion of Honor, which he wears with a red moiré sash, the Grand Cordon of the order, awarded by Napoleon on February 1, 1805. The background, shadowy and relatively little defined, includes a divan upon which the sitter´s hat rests, a parquet floor, a bear rug, a curtain, and a mirrored door reflecting a pedestal which must support a bust of the emperor (only the chin is visible). The armchair probably dates from the 1770s and is by Georges Jacob (1739-1814): an exactly similar pair, signed by Jacob, was once owned by Ruth T. Costantino (see How to Know French Antiques, New York, 1961). The inkwell is a little earlier and the writing desk a little later, suggesting that these furnishings, all in the Louis XVI style, may have been personal possessions. Notice is not taken here (or in any other portrait) of Talleyrand´s club foot, which caused him to limp and for which he was obliged to wear a corrective shoe rather than these elegant black buckled slippers. When this portrait and seven others were exhibited for the first time in the Salon of 1808, Gérard was at the height of his powers. He was the artist of choice for the greatest figures of the day, including Napoleon as First Consul and Emperor, Empress Josephine, Madame Recamier, the Duke of Wellington, and the Emperor of Russia. Gérard´s state portraits differed from the present work in two important respects: the sitters wore full court dress and were presented in interiors on a colossal scale with modern Neoclassical, Imperial furnishings. An example is the state portrait of the emperor´s brother Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, painted when he became king of Holland in 1806 (Musée national du château de Fontainebleau). This picture is not a state likeness but a grand, informal image intended for the private collection of Talleyrand. An independent work, it was evidently commissioned privately in Paris and seems to have cost the very considerable sum of 6,000 francs. It must have been painted well enough before the Congress of Erfurt to have been ready for the Salon, which opened the day the congress concluded on October 14, 1808. Sometime later, Gérard added a few details: Ferdinand of Spain awarded Talleyrand the emblem of the Order of the Golden Fleece-seen suspended from a ribbon-at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15. Moreover, the embroidered star of the Legion of Honor shows modifications in its design that were introduced under Louis XVIII (r. 1814-24, except during the Hundred Days). [Asher Ethan Miller 2014]; Provenance: the sitter (until d. 1838; possibly commissioned for Fr 6,000); his nephew, Edmond de Talleyrand Périgord, duc de Dino, Paris and Zagón (Sagan), Lower Silesia (1838-d. 1872); by descent (1872-1910) to Louis Hélie de Talleyrand Périgord, duc de Sagan (1910-d. 1937), Zagón, where it remained throughout World War II and until 1947; Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw (1947-67; by treaty to the duc de Sagan´s daughter); his daughter, Hélène-Violette de Talleyrand Périgord, duchesse de Sagan, comtesse de Pourtalès, Mme Gaston Palewski, Château du Marais, Saint-Chéron (1969-d. 2003); her son, comte Hélie Alfred Gérard de Pourtalès de Talleyrand, duc de Sagan, Château de Bandeville, Saint-Cyr-sous-Dourdain (2003-12; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, 2012; sold to MMA]

Photo de stock: Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Périgord (1754-1838), Prince de Bénévent. Artist: baron François Gérard (French, Rome 1770-1837 Paris); Date: 1808; Medium: Oil on.

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