French School, Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de Paule de Rigaud, Comte de Rigaud, Comte de Vaudreuil (17
Lot 79
French School, Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de Paule de Rigaud, Comte de Rigaud, Comte de Vaudreuil (1740-1817), wearing pale mauve coat, yellow checked waistcoat, frilled white cravat, blue moiré sash of the French Order of St. Esprit, breast star of the same and red ribbon of the Military Order of St. Louis
Sold for £5,975 (US$ 9,631) inc. premium

Lot Details
French School (circa 1785)
Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de Paule de Rigaud, Comte de Rigaud, Comte de Vaudreuil (1740-1817), wearing pale mauve coat, yellow checked waistcoat, frilled white cravat, blue moiré sash of the French Order of St. Esprit, breast star of the same and red ribbon of the Military Order of St. Louis
silver frame with pierced scroll and foliate border set with rubies and rose-cut diamonds, surmounted by an crowned eagle
Oval, 55mm. (2 1/8ins.) high
Exhibited: S.N.P.G., 2000-2003

Footnotes

  • Joseph Hyacinthe François de Paule de Rigaud, Comte de Vaudreuil (1740-1817) was born at Saint Domingue in the French Antilles. At the age of nineteen, Vaudreuil entered the army, and during the Seven Years War, served as a staff officer under the Prince de Soubise. When peace was declared, he devoted his energies to the pursuit of the epicurean delights he found at court and in fashionable Parisian society. Income from his far-off plantations provided him with the wherewithal to live on the grandest of scales. He acquired impressive collections of art, furniture, and curiosities, arranging them in his Paris house and at his Chateau de Gennevilliers. His mistress was a distant cousin, Yolande de Polastron, Comtesse, later Duchesse de Polignac. As the favourite of Marie Antoinette, she was able to obtain for him very remunerative appointments.
    In 1780, he was made Marechal de Camp, Governor of the citadel of Lille and Grand Falconer of France (this possibly explains the meaning of the bird on the top of the present frame).
    At Versailles, Vaudreuil became the guiding spirit of the Polignac faction. When Calonne fell from grace, Vaudreuil's credit dried up. The Queen turned resolutely against him. On the brink of financial ruin, he was obliged to sell off his collections. In 1787 he traveled to England and Rome but was back in Paris by the end of the following year.
    During twenty-five years of exile, Vaudreuil vainly worked to organize a counter-Revolution and reestablish the regime he had so unwittingly helped to undermine. In 1795, he married his twenty-year-old cousin, Marie Josephine Hyacinthe Victoire de Vaudreuil (1774-1851). Two sons were born to them, Charles Philippe Louis Joseph Alfred (1796-1880) and Victor Louis Alfred (1798-1834). He returned to Paris after the collapse of the First Empire and Louis XVIII appointed him to the Chambre des Pairs and to the Institut. He died at the age of 77.

    The present lot appears to relate to a half-length portrait by Le Brun of which there are several versions, including one in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris. In her catalogue, Le Brun mentions having painted in 1784 an original and five repetitions of Vaudreuil's portrait, as well as two bust lengths executed during the Restoration. For an account of known versions, see the exhibition catalogue, French Painting 1774-1830 (1975).
    Vaudreuil must be regarded as Vigée Le Brun's most important private patron during the 1780s. A number of her works hung in his Paris townhouse on the rue de la Chaise. He owned her portraits of himself, of the Duchesse de Polignac and of her daughter, the Duchesse de Guiche. Vigée Le Brun's name was closely associated with that of Vaudreuil. In newspapers and private correspondences of the period, it was hinted that the two were lovers. The poet Ecouchard Le Brun, who knew them intimately, linked them in his poem entitled, 'L'Enchanteur et la Fee'. In her memoirs she writes of Vaudreuil 'Born into a high ranking family, the Comte de Vaudreuil owed more to nature than privilege, although he was singularly blessed with the latter. As well as those advantages that come from holding a powerful position in society, he possessed all the qualities, all the charm, that make a man amiable: he was tall, well built and his bearing exuded a remarkable degree of nobility and elegance; his expression was gentle and sensitive, his features agile as his thoughts, and his engaging smile drew one to him immediately’ (The memoirs of Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, translated by Siân Evans, London. 1989, p. 347).

    We are indebted to Colin Bailey, chief curator, the Frick collection, New York for his assistance in identifying the prototype.
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