Portrait of Jean de Troy
Research by Sandra Hallergard and Marjorie Gregson
Acc No 56
Artist Francois de Troy
Artist dates 1645-1730
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
Previously attributed to Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743) we now know the artist to be Francois de Troy, a member of a family of artists and son of Antoine de Troy (1608-1684). This is Francois' portrait of his artist son, Jean, depicted in his studio, and as described by Sartin :
'The man is shown 3/4 length, in red and blue robes, with a porte crayon (see Note below) and picture on an easel. The portrait is probably an 18th century copy after a lost original.
Stretcher stamped 'J B Taylor - Manchester' with illegible address.'
This exciting discovery was the result of a submission in November 2020 by Evan Bradhurst, in Australia, who, whilst doing his own research, realised that our painting known as Portrait of an Artist was a 'version of a print in the British Museum'. The link revealed a black and white print by Alexis Simon Belle which bore a most remarkable resemblance to our painting.
The etching and engraving of our picture in the British Museum is accompanied by the following text:
Portrait of French painter Jean de Troy, after Francois de Troy; three-quarter length, standing with head turned to the left, right hand holding tool, left hand to chest; propped up on a pedestal on the right is a painting representing a swooning woman surrounded by four other women.
Etching and engraving.
We know that the British Museum bought the print from Goupil, fine art dealers and print sellers both in Paris and London, in 1876.
Francois, a painter and engraver of the Baroque period, was born in Toulouse in 1645 and died in Paris in 1730. After 1662 he studied portrait painting in Paris and in 1694 he was received into the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture as a history painter, later becoming its Director.
He also designed tapestries - one of his early works was for Madame de Montespan, a mistress of Louis XIV of France. Later, in 1683, he was to make an engraving of the funeral of Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of Louis XIV. In the 1690s he became principal court painter to James II, who had fled England into exile, residing at the Royal Palace in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, under the protection of the king.
Working in court circles for almost fifty years, Francois painted portraits of the upper classes, capturing their manners, fashions and life of leisure. In order to complete his numerous commissions he enlisted the help of his best student, Alexis Simon Belle.
His son, Jean Francois de Troy (1679-1752) was also a painter, draughtsman and tapestry designer. After studying in Italy he became one of France's leading painters of historical scenes and allegorical compositions. He was the Director of the French Academy in Rome from 1738. He painted across many genres and, like his father, painted those in high society as well as the new bourgeois classes. However, his life was also full of tragedy, his wife died young as did his seven children.
Both father and son were prolific in their output and their paintings are to be found in many museums and galleries across the world.
It easy to see why the artist of the portrait could be confused between Rigaud and de Troy. Although Rigaud was 14 years younger, he most certainly would have known de Troy, at least by reputation, since they moved in similar high society circles. Rigaud was born in Perpignan on 18 July 1659. Although he began his career in Montpellier he settled in Paris in 1681, where he died in 1783. His reputation was established in 1688 with a portrait (now lost) of Monsieur, Louis XIV's brother and he became the outstanding court painter in the latter part of Louis's reign, retaining his popularity after the king's death. It is said that 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. Those 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 portraits of numerous important figures in the world of art as well as many influential religious personnel, who were willing to pay large sums of money for his work.
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 had two children, born on the Fylde, Pauline born in 1919 and 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.
In F W Fairholt's 'A Dictionary of Terms in Art ' (1854), the porte-crayon was described as an 'implement of brass or steel for holding the chalk or crayon in sketching, to give ease and firmness to the touch, as well as to protect the fingers from the soil of black chalks'. It remained remarkably constant from the 17th century onwards.
The ‘crayon’ took the form of a naturally occurring chalk, usually black, white or red. The holder, usually double ended, protected the chalk, as well as the user's fingers, and allowed short lengths to be used. Many artists are shown in portraits with either a black or white porte-crayon, sometimes both. Relatively few are depicted with red chalk (examples include works by Murillo, Largilliere, Boucher, Hone, Therbusch, Terreni and Vigée-Lebrun).
Lancashire Museum Service,
Catalogue of Collection of Works of Art held by Fylde Borough Council
No 5, August 2001
Evan Bradhurst email: