Offered by Galerie de Frise
Ancient portrait painting
Marianne LOIR (Paris 1705 - Paris 1783)
Presumed portrait of Jean-Jacques-Blaise Baloin de Belvèse, baron de Vennac (?-1781)
Oil on oval canvas
H. 54,5 cm ; L. 46 cm
Granddaughter of the painter and engraver Nicolas Loir, the young woman followed her brother Alexis, a pastelist and engraver, to Rome. She deepened her training, certainly in the family, alongside Jean-François de Troy, then director of the French Academy in Rome. The vast majority of her known works can be dated between 1740 and 1770, when she practiced in a manner very close to that of Jean-Marc Nattier, being the height of the Louis XV style. However, her touch is freer and her work less rococo. A truth and sincerity emanate from her portraits whose subjects do not appear stuffy or in unreal postures. Sometimes Marianne Loir's style is similar to that of Pierre Gobert, who is several decades her senior, and whose work is reminiscent of some of his.
The identity of our man is proposed to us by a modern label stuck to the back of the work. The painting, which was certainly rectangular at the outset, given the continuity of the paint folded over the stretcher, was lined during the first half of the 20th century. Is this label an inscription on the back of the original canvas, then transferred? The name seems difficult to invent...
The Baron de Vennac (or Venac), whose full name seems to be Jean-Jacques-Blaise Baloin de Belvèse, was an officer in the Normandy Regiment and a knight of the Order of Saint Louis. In 1756, he was arrested for false accusations against other officers of his regiment. He was imprisoned in Le Havre, in Mont Saint-Michel, in the Bastille and then in Vincennes from 1757 onwards, and ended his life in 1781 in this fortress. Apart from these elements, the life of the man remains unknown except for his birthplace, Saint Chély de Belvèze, a family fief from which the counts of Belvèse, a title held by Vennac's father, came. These elements all come from troubled sources written by the famous Latude, a prisoner of many escapes who wrote his memoirs.
However, our man by his uniform was indeed an officer of the Normandy regiment and carries the order of St. Louis. The portrait seems to have been painted around 1760/65 which does not exclude the Baron de Vennac.