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Hyacinthe Rigaud

Charles de Saint-Aubin (1698-1764), Archbishop of Cambrai
Portrait of Charles de Saint-Albin, Archbishop of Cambrai, 1723

Known primarily for his portraits of King Louis XIV and other aristocracy, Hyacinthe Rigaud was born on July 18, 1659. His type of portraiture is obviously quite formal and not quite as accessible as the Impressionists I've been talking about these last couple of posts, but Rigaud deserves to be noted for his superb technique and exquisite drapery and color. In the above painting of Charles de Saint-Albin we see incredible detail in the greyish-blue robe...highlights that would have taken ages to paint. Note the shadow of the book on his robe.

Wille Sinzendorf Rigaud
Etudes pour le portrait de Philipp-Ludwig Wenzel von Sinzendorf, 1739

Jean-Baptiste Monginot
Jean-Baptiste de Montginot, 1688

The solidity of this man has a sculptural quality to it. In this world of aristocracy and pomp, the clothes definitely make the man, and Rigaud goes to considerable length to describe them to us. What is curious about this work is the expression of pride in the man's face for the woman in the portrait he is holding. I'm not sure who he is nor the woman but I am sure it was an expensive commission for Rigaud.

Portrait of Gaspard de Gueidan playing the musette, 1738

A visual feast for the eyes, Rigaud takes detail and guides our eyes around the figure. This complex palette seems like it would not work in a painting but Rigaud pulls it off effortlessly while esteeming his client.

Saint-André Rigaud
Saint André, ca.1700's
This is quite a sensual interpretation of Saint Andrew, who was a popular subject in sculpture during the Renaissance and Baroque. Here Rigaud gives him the body of a young man in his prime. It's affected, to be sure, but intriguing nonetheless.

La Menasseuse 1709
La Menasseuse, 1709

I love this portrait. Mysterious and dramatic, yet very sensual. Rigaud must have had an influence on many of the great fashion photographers for his low-key lighting and attention to detail in costumes. Note the subtle purple glazing on her dress. Rigaud knew how to make royalty look good.


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