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Portrait of the duc de la Vrillière. 1772

Jean-Baptiste André Gautier Dagoty

* 1740 in Paris † 1786 in Paris

Colour mezzotint printed in red, yellow, blue, white and black. Size of plate: 24 x 19.5; size of sheet: 27.4 x 21.5 cm.

Literature: Model 446;

                   Singer 94.

Pale contemporary inscription in brown ink below the plate: "Mr le duc de la Vrilliere ministre et secretaire d'Etat Aoust 1772. Dagoty" (signed). It is likely that our impression is an artist's proof. This is suggested by its comparison to the final published state (BM 1900,0717.45), which shows one more black plate which completes the jacket decorations, the sitter's face and the overall shading. Moreover, the handwritten inscription in our print seems to be a draft of the printed lettering on a separate plate of the final state printed below the image.

The illustrious sitter of this print is Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Saint-Florentin and duc de la Vrillière (1705 - Paris - 1777), a French politician and freemason who was in charge of several ministries during the reign of Louis XV. In this portrait he is represented half-lenght, wearing a red jacket with the insignia of the prestigious Order of the Saint-Esprit, of which he was chancelier and garde des Sceaux from 1756 to 1770.

From a series of eight prints for the Galerie Universelle contenant les portraits de personnes célèbres de tout pays, actuellement vivantes, published in 1772 in Paris by Philippe-Denis Pierres. Jean-Baptiste Gautier-Dagoty made our print and three more, representing Louis XV, Frederic II Roy de Prusse, and C.R.A. de Maupeou. The remaining four made by his father Jacques-Fabien portraited d'Alembert, Voltaire, Marie-Thérèse and Charles-Emmanuel de Savoie.

The Gautier-Dagoty were a French family of engravers made of the father Jacques-Fabien and his five sons. Jacques-Fabien was a pioneer of the four colour printing technique invented by his master Jakob Christoffel Le Blon, and used it to create spectacular anatomical illustrations. Jean-Baptiste, nicknamed "Le Chevalier Dagoty", was Jaques-Fabien's eldest son. Adopting his father's style and techniques, he became a prolific portraitist and painter to the queen Marie Antoinette.

As Model has already pointed out, in the final state this is an extremely rare early French colour print, and as a proof impression even rarer. A final state of Frederic II Roy de Prusse was sold in 2014 (Christie's Sale 1516, lot. 228).

Price on request


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