Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts)
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Purchase, Henry R. Luce Gift, Elihu Root Jr. Bequest, Rogers Fund, Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, Morris K. Jesup Fund and Charles and Anita Blatt Gift, 1970
Not on view
Brother-in-law of the marquis de Lafayette, the vicomte de Noailles (1756–1804) worshiped the idea of democracy. Of noble French family, he nevertheless sympathized with the American cause and served in the Revolutionary War. Later, he played an important role in the abolition of the old regime in France; always a supporter of reason and law, however, he fled from the Terror and came to this country in the spring of 1793. In Philadelphia, he met Stuart, who painted this imposing portrait of him at full length, though on a small canvas. Noailles’s dashing figure dominates the richly varied scene, which is enlivened by a tumultuous sky and a troop of cavalry charging in strict formation.
Signature: [at lower left]: G. Stuart 1798
the sitter, until died 1804; his son, comte Alexis de Noailles, until 1835; his son, comte Alfred de Noailles, until 1895; his son, comte Alexis de Noailles; his nephew, La Croix-Laval, until died ca. 1940; his nephew, comte Christian de la Croix-Laval, until 1970; sale, Hotel des Ventes de Nice, France, 28 May 1970; with Julius H. Weitzner, London, 1970