Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

More Old Master Drawings

There is nothing in all the world more beautiful or significant of the laws of the universe than the nude human body.
Robert Henri








Charles Louis Müller, A Standing Female Nude Leaning Against an Arch, ca.1864

Once again I decided to talk about some Old Master drawings and delve into the thinking behind how these drawings may have been created and the knowledge of the artist. In the above drawing by Müller, done in sanguine with white chalk highlights, the figure is drawn from a low view-point, with her body twisting toward her left side while resting on one knee. Note how Müller alternates the bent right leg with the bent left arm to create dynamic contrast. The right arm is also foreshortened and partially in shadow. Expressing power and femininity, this is a study that is Renaissance in spirit, even Mannerist, revealing the female nude as sculptural yet always graceful.







Anton Raphael Mengs, Seated male nude viewed from the back, 1755

One of several Academic nude studies by Mengs, this …

Bouguereau

Nymphs and Satyr, 1873


If there is one artist today that hardly needs an introduction, it would be William-Adolphe Bouguereau, supreme giant of 19th century Academic art. Born on November 30, 1825 in La Rochelle on the southwest of France, his talent would define the era he lived in only to fall into obscurity for decades after his death in 1905 until as recent as the early 1980's, shockingly. Today he has the distinction of being lionized by the Art Renewal Center as one of the greatest artists of all time while at the other end of the spectrum vilified by modernists as artificially perfect and sentimental. In fact it is quite rare to see such polarization over an artist of a calibre like Bouguereau, whose bravura is difficult to equal yet at the same time thematically his work admittedly tends toward women and children, a subject matter that sold well and he had endless patience for. Over the vast array of his oeuvre, some 820 paintings, I have tried to find some of his very b…

René-Antoine Houasse, French Classical Master

Dispute between Minerva and Neptune over the Naming of the City of Athens, 1689




Born in 1645 in Paris, René-Antoine Houasse was a French painter who worked in the Château de Versailles under his teacher, Charles Le Brun. Despite the initial impression of Classical formality, Houasse actually was quite musical and rhythmic in his compositions and had a very French palette. His figures are quite sculptural while retaining an elegance and grace regardless of gender.

In the above Dispute between Minerva and Neptune over the Naming of the City of Athens, Houasse divides the painting with light to add a stark drama to an otherwise Classically formal composition. Taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, the first king of Athens, King Cecrops was looking for a patron god or goddess for his beautiful city, and both Mineva and Neptune fought to win the favor of the gods. Neptune creates the sea by striking his mighty trident into the ground, and while impressive, the gods didn't much care for s…