By Joseph Vallière (actif 1773-1792)
France, circa 1780
110 x 85 mm
144 x 119 mm (with frame)
An hand writing label at the back is reading : "Le Cte d’Angiviller / [par Vallière] / …/ Tuteur de ma / grand mère / la Ctesse de Neuilly" (identified as Marie-Catherine-Rosalie de Beauchamps, married in 1775 with comte Brunet de Neuilly).
Charles-Claude Flahaut de La Billarderie, comte d'Angiviller (1730-1809) was a French statesman who had a successful military career under Louis XV obtaining the rank of maréchal de camp. He was appointed directeur général des Bâtiments, Arts, Jardins et Manufactures of France in 1774 when Louis XVI became king of France as he was one of his personal friend. Competent minister, close to philosophical circles, protector of the painter David, he encouraged neoclassicism and was one of the main promoters of the antique revival style in France.
After the Luxembourg gallery closed in 1779, Angiviller decided to use the Grande Galerie in the Louvre to exhibit paintings from the royal collection as well as works that would be especially acquired. He commissioned a report on this subject from the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot, but this project, which foreshadowed the Louvre museum, could not be carried out before the French Revolution. On the other hand, Angiviller was able to carry out an ambitious policy of acquisitions in this perspective, until the necessities of the American War of Independence came to dry up the funds: he acquired the main European masterpieces which appeared on the market, but also smaller works, striving to fill the lack of foreign school examples in the royal collections, not without promoting French artists. He also undertook an extensive program to restore the collections.
He also set up an important mineralogy cabinet, which he bequeathed in 1781 to the Jardin des Plantes. Falsely accused of squandering public funds, he emigrated in 1790 and ended his life in the Altona monastery in Hamburg where he died in December 1809.