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Record Price for a Portrait by François Gérard

Published on , by Anne Doridou-Heim
Auction on 16 December 2022 - 14:00 (CET) - Salle 4 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009

Recently rediscovered, this painting of a young soldier from the Napoleonic period had even more appeal than expected.

François Pascal Simon Gérard (1770-1837), Portrait of Charles Ferdinand Théodore... Record Price for a Portrait by François Gérard

François Pascal Simon Gérard (1770-1837), Portrait of Charles Ferdinand Théodore de Vassinhac d'Imécourt, oil on canvas, 210 x 135 cm/82.7 x 53.1 in.
Result: €1,472,000

Almost everything has already been said here about this handsome stranger, whose name we know nonetheless: Charles Ferdinand Théodore de Vassinhac d'Imécourt (1785-1807). Recently rediscovered and highly anticipated, with good reason, this painting by François Gérard (1770-1837) more than lived up to its promise, quintupling its estimate to sell for €1,472,000. This set a new French record (source: Artnet) for the painter and took the young man to third place in the artist’s results worldwide. Posterity has clearly been kinder to him than his short life. Now emerging as a missing link in Gérard’s corpus, the work proves that the artist chose well not to portray him as a soldier. Though he distinguished himself as such, joining Napoleon's army at the age of 20 and advancing rapidly in a promising career, it is also what led to his premature death, on April 13, 1807, during the siege of Danzig. In commissioning his portrait from one of the leading masters in portraiture, his family wanted to preserve the memory of this young brother smiling at life, in his stylish city outfit. And he still touches us today. When he painted it in 1808, Gérard was already a highly prominent artist. His first portraits instantly earned him official recognition for their elegance and psychological refinement, and in 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte began to give him commissions. In 1805, he painted the French Emperor in his coronation robes and became the official portraitist to the imperial family. Through his supple lines, rich colors and varied settings—he would show his models in their living environment—he used a genre normally shackled by protocol and control to create truly great art, avoiding all the stiffness of official images. Surprisingly, the fall of the Empire had little impact on his career, as he became First Painter to Louis XVIII, and was made a baron in 1819. He certainly deserved his contemporaries’ name for him: "painter of kings and king of painters"!

Friday 16 December 2022 - 14:00 (CET) - Live
Salle 4 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009
Tessier & Sarrou et Associés
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