Artist: Gilbert Stuart (American, North Kingston, Rhode Island 1755–1828 Boston, Massachusetts)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Credit Line: 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
Accession Number: 1970.262
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.