Circle of Jean Petitot the Elder (1607-91)
Petitot was the primary enamellist of the seventeenth century, responsible for the portraits of numerous kings and queens in Europe...
Although, frustratingly, the identity of this sitter is not known, he is undoubtedly a member of the French nobility and would have been awarded the Order of the Saint-Esprit by Louis XIV, King of France (1638-1715).
Petitot was the primary enamellist of the seventeenth century, responsible for the portraits of numerous kings and queens in Europe. His career spanned almost three-quarters of the century and in that time he travelled widely, through Switzerland, England and France. Although he was a relatively prolific artist – especially rare in the medium of enamel at this time – his portraits are of unwavering quality. Many were set into expensive jewelled and enamelled frames and gold boxes and exchanged as diplomatic gifts.
Jean Petitot started his career apprenticing to his uncle Jean Royaume, a jeweller in Geneva. However, following this early training, he soon started working in enamel with Pierre Bordier and was possibly a pupil of Jean and Henri Toutin of Blois. In 1633 Petitot arrived in England where he met Anthony Van Dyck who, impressed with his craftsmanship, encouraged Petitot to pursue enamel painting at the highest level. It is probable that Van Dyck introduced Petitot to Charles I who patronised the artist and granted him apartments in Whitehall. After several years in England Petitot returned to France in the mid-1640s to escape the impending English Civil War. He resumed his relationship with the English monarchy when the future Charles II settled in Paris in 1651, visiting Petitot at his lodgings. His greatest patron was Louis XIV of France who employed Petitot to paint his portrait as court painter in enamel.
 The tradition of presenting the works of Petitot as gifts continued into the 19th century, with the portrait of Louis XIV in the Wallace Collection bought by the 3rd Marquess of Hertford from George IV’s collection, and given by him to his son the 4th Marquess as a present in 1834.
 L.R. Schidlof, The Miniature in Europe (Graz, 1964), pp.630-1.