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Hyacinthe Rigaud (Perpignan 1659 - Paris 1743)

François de Monestay, Marquis de Chazeron

Oil on canvas

75 x 60cm

In 1688, François de Monestay (1617-1697) was decorated with the most prestigious order of the French monarchy: that of the Holy Spirit. This event crowned a long military career. Successively Lieutenant of the king's bodyguards and lieutenant general of the king's armies, he ended up being granted by Louis XIV, the lieutenancy general of Roussillon and the government of Brest.


Having learned about his career, the Marquis de Chazeron commissioned his portrait from Hyacinthe Rigaud.

This Languedoc-trained artist arrived in Paris in 1681 after a brief stay in Lyonnais. The following year he won the first painting prize of the Royal Academy which gave him the right to go to Rome as a boarder. He renounced this advantage on the advice of Charles Lebrun who, admiring his portraits, recommended that he devote himself fully to them.

His career therefore experienced a meteoric rise. When asked for our painting, he had just painted the portrait of Monsieur, brother of Louis XIV, thus marking the start of a long series of commissions for the royal family and the great nobility.


His book of reason mentions "the Marquis de Chazeron" in 16881. This portrait costs the sum of 111 pounds and 5 sols. This price corresponds at the time in the artist's scale to a bust portrait, while the large formats (up to the knees) are negotiated more in the 200 pounds.

Originally oval, our table is modified and becomes rectangular. Several hypotheses can explain this transformation.

Sometimes the artist only executes the face of his model and lets his studio finish the painting, which can then include the initial work in a larger format.

But it is more likely, Rigaud not yet having an assistant in 1688, that the marquis himself requested this modification. Having first ordered an oval portrait, he had it modified in order to include on his armor the blue cord of the Order of the Holy Spirit, which he received only on December 31, 1688.


This work is immediately striking with its incredible craftsmanship. The truth of the features is supported by the accuracy of the complexions and the strength of the gaze. Of great psychological intensity, it allows us to understand the real revolution that Rigaud is operating in the art of portraiture. Fully applied here, this formula earned him immense notoriety for several decades, to the point that he painted effigies of the Bourbons over four generations.

We would like to thank Mrs. Ariane James-Sarrazin who, after examining the work, confirmed its authenticity and will include it in her forthcoming catalog raisonné.

We also thank her for the valuable information she provided us for the development of this manual.

For any request for additional information,

do not hesitate to contact us

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