• Portrait of M.F. Voltaire

    Artist:
    Gautherot, Pierre. 1769-1825
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    65х54 cm

Gautherot, Pierre. 1769-1825

Portrait of M.F. Voltaire

France,

Title:

Portrait of M.F. Voltaire

Place:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

65х54 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1939; handed over from the Leningrad State Museum of Revolution (currently the State Museum of the Political History of Russia)

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-8385

Comment:

Voltaire (the real name François-Marie Arouet; 1694–1778) was a great French philosopher and writer, one of the most eminent enlighteners of the 18th century. Voltaire is depicted half-length, with his head in the three-quarters view, although in other paintings enlighteners were more frequently shown en face. This type was formed ten years before Gautherot’s painting had been executed and can be observed, for instance, in the portrait of Voltaire copied prior to 1780 by Mlle Luzurier from a canvas by Nicolas de Largillière (1718; the Museum of the Castle, Versaille; oil on canvas; 78 × 62; oval). Scholarly literature provides but sketchy and contradictory facts about Gautherot. It is thought that initially he worked as a sculptor, then became a painter and specialized in depicting historical figures. In 1820 he acted as a publisher and one of the authors of a three-volume work that included the portraits of the 16th to 18th century famous people of France. There is a controversy both about the painter’s name and whether the portrait was the creation of one or two masters, for instance, of the father Claude and the son Pierre. The author of the catalogue of French painting, V.N.Berezina, [1983; 1983а] identified him as Pierre. However, it was more likely that the work was produced by a single painter, namely Claude Gautherot, one of David’s pupils. [Babin 2000]. Author’s comments: Alexander Babin

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