Pierre Mignard (1612-1695) attributed-Portrait of a gentleman in armor circa 1670-1680
Canvas of 74 cm by 60 cm
Very beautiful old frame of 88 cm by 74 cm
This superb portrait represents a man in ceremonial armor. He wears the fringed white silk command scarf. He is an officer in the armies of Louis XIV, perhaps a naval captain, as the compass he holds in his hand suggests. An inscription on the back offers the name of Christoffe de Rostaing. We can locate the portrait in the years 1670-1680, time of the Dutch War. Two stylistic influences can be put forward, the chiaroscuro that the artist worked on during his trip to Italy in the previous decade and a certain Flemish influence (some paintings by Wallerant Vaillant show similarities in styles)
Pierre Mignard (1612-1695 )
Born in Troyes, Pierre Mignard did his apprenticeship in Bourges, from 1622, with the painter of altar paintings Jean Boucher, then in Paris with Simon Vouet. These two painters who had once made the trip to Italy perhaps communicated to Mignard the desire to travel across the mountains, as a rule for artists of the 1590 generation, neglected by the artists of his generation (Philippe de Champaigne, La Hyre). Of his long stay in Italy, mainly in Rome, from 1634-1635 to 1657 (he made a trip to Parma, Modena and Venice in 1654-1655), we know very little; if the artist is strongly Italianized. His real training takes place under the aegis of Bolognese painting: Annibal Carrache, Dominiquin, l'Albane; he also retains from Corrège his sense of chiaroscuro and meditates on Poussin's painting. So we are dealing with an eclectic painter. He joined Paris at the request of Louis XIV in 1657; he then executed several orders, such as the dome of Val-de-Grâce (1663). Renowned portrait painter, he knows how to flatter the model, but also to mix expression with grace in light and fresh tones, in contrast to the majesty of Le Brun. On the death of his rival (1690), he succeeded him as the king's first painter and director of the Gobelins factory. Long removed from the royal building sites, he was finally able to perform large decorations, first for the Duke of Orleans in Saint-Cloud (1677-1680, destroyed but partly engraved by J.-B. de Poilly; this set was completed by a Pietà, painted for the chapel of the castle in 1682, today in the church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine de Gennevilliers), for the Grand Condé (Andromède, 1679, Louvre), then for Monseigneur at Versailles (1683-84 ), finally for Louis XIV himself: in 1685, he painted the ceilings of the Petite Galerie (engraved by G. Audran) and the 2 salons that accompany it. All these ceilings are unfortunately destroyed; however, they formed the part which the painter himself considered the most important of his work. Supported by Louvois, Mignard gradually supplants Le Brun, with whom he leads an open struggle. Episodes of this struggle, a Carrying of the Cross offered to the King in 1684 (Louvre), a Family of Darius (Hermitage) which in 1689 rivals the painting which had once made the glory of Le Brun. On his death (1690), Mignard, almost in his eighties, succeeded him in his offices and dignities and displayed incredible activity. He multiplied the projects for the decoration of the church of the Invalides (drawings in the Louvre), undertook 2 ceilings for the king's small apartment in Versailles (fragments in the museums of Grenoble, Lille, Toulouse, Dinan, at the castle of Fontainebleau ) and painted a series of religious paintings.