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This artwork, Portrait of Jacques Maximilien Benjamin Bins, comte de Saint-Victor by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, is currently for sale at The Matthiesen Gallery.
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Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, Portrait of Jacques Maximilien Benjamin Bins, comte de Saint-Victor
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TITLE:  Portrait of Jacques Maximilien Benjamin Bins, comte de Saint-Victor
ARTIST:  Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (French, 1767–1824)
WORK DATE:  1813
CATEGORY:  Paintings
MATERIALS:  Oil on canvas, unlined
MARKINGS:  Signed with monogram and dated at lower left on the spine of the book: ALGDRT/ 1813
SIZE:  h: 92 x w: 73 cm / h: 36.2 x w: 28.7 in
STYLE:  Neoclassicism
PRICE*:  Contact Gallery for Price
GALLERY:  The Matthiesen Gallery  +44 (0)20 7930 2437  Send Email
DESCRIPTION:  Before a plain grey-brown background, the renowned journalist and homme d’lettres, Jacques de Saint-Victor (1772-1858) is seated at a desk draped in red velvet, upon which sit a pen and inkwell beside a leather bound volume of Homer atop a scattering of papers. Girodet has captured his friend Saint-Victor in a pose, which, while casual, is dignified, even alert, and balances the effect of the hands languidly crossed over the book with the clear gaze of his subject’s grey eyes focused steadily to the left and beyond the confines of the canvas.

Stylistically, the present portrait adheres to the traditional Davidian formula for portraits assis, in which a tight, formal composition, often placing the sitter at the front of the picture plane, is balanced with a subtle and sensitive approach to physiognomy. Like Girodet, Saint-Victor was an ardent royalist and his portrait almost mirrors that of the Comte de Sèze. Raymond de Sèze had been one of the defence council for Louis XVI. Girodet had painted the portrait in 1806, but it was first exhibited eight years later, when, in an effort to declare his support of the Bourbon Restoration, Girodet included it in his selection for the Salon of 1814 where it hung alongside his portraits of Chateaubriand and Saint-Victor.

However, the closest formal comparison with the present work can be made with Girodet’s 1795 portrait of the wealthy Genoese merchant Giuseppe Fravega, painted in Genoa during the artist’s Italian period and noted by Sylvain Bellanger as the ‘most Davidian [portrait] that Girodet ever painted.’ In both portraits the sitter is placed behind a desk scattered with writing implements seated in a physically relaxed pose which highlights by contrast the alert intensity of the facial expression. In both portraits the subject’s introspective gaze is directed beyond the canvas and the facial features are painted delicately and yet vividly. Girodet gives both men, the same vermilion in the lips and cheeks and even five-o’clock shadow to lend verismo and vitality to their pale complexions that contrast with the deep chiaroscuro of their plain costumes.

After the turn of the century Girodet developed a remarkable versatility in his portraiture for capturing the unique and intrinsic character of his subjects, as illustrated by the portraits of the artist’s adoptive brother, Benoît Agnès Trioson, or his iconic images of Chateaubriand and Jean-Baptiste Belley. After 1799, the romantic influence of Gros and Gérard began to overshadow Davidian formalism in his portraiture and by the second decade of the 19th Century Girodet favoured depicting his sitters bust-length and with a direct gaze, as in his portrait of the architect and poet Louis-Charles Balzac (1811).

PROVENANCE:  Eudoxie Gavarret, daughter of the sitter; and thence by descent.
ONLINE CATALOGUE(S):  Matthiesen Gallery Inventory
LITERATURE:  P. A. Coupin, Œuvres posthumes de Girodet-Trioson, Paris, 1829, vol. I, p. lxj (where dated 1812).
M. de Vasselot, Histoire du Portrait en France, Paris, 1880, p. 220.
S. Lemeux-Fraitot, Ut Poeta pictor, les champs culturels et littéraires d’Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767-1824), Université de Paris, Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2003, vol. I, p. 375.
S. Guégan, ‘Ni rouge ni blanc: Girodet et le nouvel ordre des choses’, in Girodet 1767-1824, exhib. cat., Paris, 2005, p. 119, under note 93.
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