Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin (1759-1832)
Augustin was appointed imperial court painter to Napoleon and then cabinet painter to Louis XVIII...
The sitter is possibly a member of the noble family of de Saint Marsault, originally from d’Angoumois. Probably painted during the 1780s, this early example by the great French miniaturist Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin displays the dynamism, attention to detail and purity of colour also associated with his later work. The proud display of military prowess demonstrated by the sitter is paired with his animated features and slight smile.
This work also belongs to a period when Augustin was still painting sitters from noble families. As Bernd Pappe has noted, after 1789 his sitters were drawn from artisans, craftsmen and merchants. This is all the more surprising given that his miniatures were expensive due to their time-consuming detail.
Augustin worked as a miniaturist under the ancien régime but did not reach the height of his achievement until after the Revolution. He became imperial court painter to Napoleon and then cabinet painter to Louis XVIII. He ran a large workshop with many excellent students, including his wife Pauline Ducruet, whom he married in 1800.