Portrait of an Artist
Research by Sandra Hallergard and Marjorie Gregson
Acc No 56
Artist Hyacinthe Rigaud (attributed to)
Artist dates 1659 -1743
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 44.56 x 34.29 in (113.3 x 87.1 cm)
Date painted Unknown
Donor Alfred Davey, 1894-1960
Delahays, 215 Clifton Drive South, St Annes
Dated donated 24 September 1945
Stretcher stamped 'J B Taylor - Manchester' with address illegible
French portrait painter, the friend and rival of Largillière, Hyacinthe Rigaud began his career in Montpellier and settled in Paris in 1681. His reputation was established in 1688 with a portrait (now lost) of Monsieur, Louis XIV's brother, and he became the outstanding court painter of the latter part of Louis's reign, retaining his popularity after the king's death. He was less interested in showing individual character than in depicting the rank and condition of the sitter by nobility of attitude and expressiveness of gesture. These qualities are seen most memorably in his celebrated state portrait of Louis XIV (1701, Louvre, Paris), one of the classic images of royal majesty.
Rigaud painted many important figures in the world of art, such as the sculptors, Desjardins, to whom, as an old friend, he delivered three successive portraits and Girardon and Coysevox. Likewise, the painters, Joseph Parrocel, La Fosse and Mignard and the architects, De Cotte, Hardouin-Mansart and Gabriel. He also painted portraits of poets, including La Fontaine and Boileau, as well as religious figures, amongst them, the Cardinal de Fleury and Bossuet. Many influential archbishops and bishops paid large sums of money for a portrait.
The portrait shows a young aristocratic man in his wig and fine clothes. In his right hand he is holding a brush and behind him is an easel with a work in progress, which leads us to believe that he is an artist. The portrait is similar to others done by Rigaud, showing more the position in society of the person than a psychological portrait.
Alfred Davey was born in Darwen, Lancashire in 1894 to Richard and Anna Eliza Davey, both of whom worked in the cotton mills. His father was an overlooker and his mother a weaver. In the 1911 census Alfred, still at home in Darwen, was described as 'a clerk in a stammers works'.
In 1918 Alfred married Gertrude Annabel Chew, daughter of William Alexander and Clarissa Chew. Alfred and Gertrude has two children, born on the Fylde, Pauline born in 1919and William Richard born in 1922. William was a Sergeant Pilot in the RAF 101 Squadron and died on the 2 August 1941. His memorial is at Runnymede.
A passenger list to the USA in 1947 described Alfred as 'an antique dealer'. Alfred died in 1960, aged 65, in Preston Infirmary. His home address was 'Delahays', 215 Clifton Drive South, Lytham St Annes. Gertrude died in 1975. Her address at that time was 148 Clifton Drive, Lytham St Annes.
Note: According to Stephen Sartin (2001) the portrait is probably an 18th century copy after a lost original.