This portrait of a young man was painted by the Swiss-born artist Jean André Rouquet, who moved to London during the 1720s. Likely trained in his birthplace of Geneva, Rouquet arrived in England as a full trained enameller, ready to take on the virtual monopoly of the market by the artist Christian Friedrich Zincke. Rouquet’s enamels, as seen in this example, were painted in a softer manner compared to Zincke’s. There appears to have been little difference in their clientele, although Zincke was the principal artist to the royal family.

After thirty years in England, Rouquet moved to Paris in 1753. Here, he finally came to royal attention, gaining the prestigious commission of painting the famed mistress of Louis XV, Madame du Pompadour. By this date du Pompadour had ceased her sexual relationship with the king and had become his valued companion and confidante. The commission of her portrait from Rouquet was one alongside other paintings and sculpture which in...

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This portrait of a young man was painted by the Swiss-born artist Jean André Rouquet, who moved to London during the 1720s. Likely trained in his birthplace of Geneva, Rouquet arrived in England as a full trained enameller, ready to take on the virtual monopoly of the market by the artist Christian Friedrich Zincke. Rouquet’s enamels, as seen in this example, were painted in a softer manner compared to Zincke’s. There appears to have been little difference in their clientele, although Zincke was the principal artist to the royal family.

After thirty years in England, Rouquet moved to Paris in 1753. Here, he finally came to royal attention, gaining the prestigious commission of painting the famed mistress of Louis XV, Madame du Pompadour. By this date du Pompadour had ceased her sexual relationship with the king and had become his valued companion and confidante. The commission of her portrait from Rouquet was one alongside other paintings and sculpture which in part embraced her new role at court. His star still in the ascendant, Rouquet was then elected to the Academie Royale de Paris in the following year.

Exhibiting in Paris until 1757, Rouquet’s professional success had long been overshadowed by the death of his wife in 1753. Unable to cope without her, he slid into depression which led to dementia. The death of his beloved servant tipped Rouquet into further distress to the point that he was taken to a Charenton Hospital where he died in 1758.

Although Rouquet’s career was relatively short, he left behind a legacy of both fine portraits and critical literature. His highly successful Etat des Arts en Angleterre, in which the artist by turns defended the English arts against the attacks of contemporary French commentators and lambasted the English themselves for their indifference to their rapidly developing artistic culture was published in 1755. In England he aligned himself with William Hogarth (whose enamel portrait by Rouquet is in the National Portrait Gallery, London) and political figures (for example, a portrait of British statesman William Pitt is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum). Although the identity of the current sitter is unknown, the portrait is a new and striking addition to the growing group of enamels by Rouquet’s hand.

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American School, after Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) and Thomas Sully (1783-1872)
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500 Years of British Art