Family group portrait

Jean Martin Renaud French

Not on view

Renaud was a prolific modeler of small portraits and scenes in wax and clay, which he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon. Here, he vies with his Neoclassical contemporaries in painting by presenting a tender vignette, using hints of costume and posture to define the generations: the burly man at right, in a fashionable high collar, has dismounted, still wearing his spurs, to be greeted by his wife, their four children, and an older man—his father or hers, or perhaps a tutor. Bewigged and taking a pinch of snuff, the latter adheres to a bygone style of life, which Renaud, a diehard royalist, surely savored.

The modeling of wax in relief on a slate ground had been a preliminary technique of medalists since the Renaissance, but Renaud used it as an end in itself, confident that the pleasing contrasts of color and texture achieved in this miniature would cause it to be framed and treasured as a keepsake.

Family group portrait, Jean Martin Renaud (French, Sarreguemines 1746–1821 Paris), Wax on slate, French

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