Portrait of Louis XV by Pierre Gobert

Pierre Gobert
(Paris or Fontainebleau 1662-Paris 1744)


Portrait of Louis XV


Paris or Versailles, Regency period, circa 1721-1722


Dimensions without frame : Height : 17 13/16 in. ; Width : 53 15/16 in.

Dimensions with frame : Height : 84 in. ; Width 63 in.


Provenance :
-Probably a direct gift from Louis XV to
André de Sinéty Marquis de Lurcy, great tutor of the royal children (1712-1773) ; his son, André-Marie Marquis de Sinéty (1758-1832) ;
bequeathed to Elzéar de Sinéty Marquis de Sinéty.
- By descent to the present owner in the collection of the Marquis de Sinety, in the Château de Misy-sur-Yonne.

 

Originally ranked fourth in the dynastic succession to the throne of France, after the « Grand Dauphin » , son of Louis XIV, the « Petit Dauphin » , grand son of the Sun King and of the Duke of Bretagne, elder brother of the king, the young Louis, who will become later Louis XV, was not supposed to reign. However, a series of death have lead him to the first rank for the succession of Louis XIV, his great grand father, who died in the Château de Versailles in September 1715.

At the age of five years old, the new king is unable to reign, therefore his great uncle, Philippe d’Orleans is named regent to run the country on behalf of the young Louis, until he reaches his majority in 1723.


The present painting was realized during this very specific time of the Regence, when the young Louis, already bearing the title of King of France, but without any power, was being trained to reign. This painting is characteristic of the official art of the court of Louis the XIV, depicting a young boy standing proudly in the very formal surrounding of the palace. The solemnity is underlined by the heavy folds of the dark red velvet curtain, ornated with golden embroideries, overlooking the scene.


The young king, standing in the center of the composition dominating the space and looks at the spectator with high intensity. He is depicted in a noble and determined attitude, holding a spear in his right hand, the left hand resting firmly on his hip, dressed in a blue a velvet gown, with rich gold string embroideries and delicate laces. He wears the blue sash and the cross of the order of the Saint-Esprit, and is surrounded by the emblems of his power ; Behind him, the white flag laying on a stool is the symbol of the king’s hope for peace ; on his right, the crown of the kings of France is placed on a table, testifying of the dynastic continuity and of the legitimity of his royal position.


The armor and the helmet at his feet show the young king’s leading temper and his ability to conduct the army. The white marble torso, copy of an antique sculpture in the Belvedere, symbolizes the king’s patronage and protection to the arts. At last, the globe is an allegory of Sciences, underlining his instruction and knowledge in his early age.  The young Louis shows here that he owns all the qualities and virtues requested to rule the kingdom.


This painting can be very precisely dated around 1722-1723, shortly before the king Louis’s majority. Portraits of Louis XV at this age, are extremely rare, both in painting or sculpture. They were probably ordered directly by the King Louis XIV. Among existing comparable portraits, we can mention : a white marble bust by Antoine Coysevaux now at the Frick Collection in New York, as well as two paintings, the first one by Augustin Oudart Justinat, the second one by Hyacinthe Rigaud, both in the collection of the Musee National du Château de Versailles ; We can also note another painting by Rosalba Carriera, exhibited at the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresde, and an engraving by Jean Audran after a painting by Pierre Gobert, showing the young Louis XV standing, resting on the crown of the kings of France. In this last work of art, we can note a very similar composition to our painting, such as a crisp and elegant manner on the face, and on the attitude of the figure. The way the painter uses the light and the effects on materials allows us to link with certitude our painting to the work of Pierre Gobert, one of the most brilliant portraitist of that time.

 

Such a major work of art is most likely to have a great historical provenance. Until now, this painting was part of the collection of the Marquis de Sinety, in the Château de Misy- sur-Yonne in Seine et Marne. The family has always known this work as being a direct gift from Louis XV to Andre de Sinety, Marquis de Lurcy (1712-1773), field marshal of the king’s army, and great tutor of the royal children. It is particularly interesting to note that after the death of Andre-Marie de Sinety, son of the Marquis de Lurcy, in 1832, an inventory of his collection was ordered, in his Paris apartment located on 12 place Vendome. In the billiard room, among many royal portraits, the following was notified : « On canvas, figuring Louis XVI, offered by Him to Monsieur de Sinety in 1786 » ; above all : « A portrait on canvas representing Louis XV given by Him to Monsieur de Sinety in 1770 ». This notice, even if short and rather vague, could describe the present painting. A foot note on the inventory mentionned that : « All these paintings, including the two others mentionned above, form the famous collection of portraits of the kings of France, bequested to M.Elzear de Sinety ».

 


Pierre Gobert (1662-1744)


Pierre Gobert was born in Fontainebleau, in an artistic family. Most likely trained in his father’s workshop, he is soon introduced to the Versailles court . At the young age of 20, he realizes a portrait of the Duc de Bourgogne, which brings him fame, and makes him the official portraitist of the court. He then travelled in Europe and settled a few years in Germany, working at the court of Baviara, where he realized several portraits. Back in France during the first years of 18th century, he is received at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a portraitist. At the 1704 Salon exhibit, he showed 19 portraits, most of them representing members of the royal family or aristocracy. Including, the Duchesses du Maine, d’Orleans and de Bourgogne, and the count D’Eu. Encountering a great success, he became the official portraitist of the Lorraine court.

Nowadays, many of his works are part of important international public and private collections.