This double portrait is among the most technically brilliant by Coypel, who was a member of the French Royal Academy and official painter to King Louis XV. He used dazzling and unerring control of a variety of media (primarily pastel, but also chalk and watercolor) to capture the wide range of textures, including lace and velvet. The sitters are traditionally identified as Marie Elisabeth de Séré de Rieux and her husband François de Jullienne, son of a wealthy textile merchant, collector, and patron of Antoine Watteau. The direct gaze of the sitters, related to Coypel’s interest in the theater, is a conceit he used regularly.
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Title:François de Jullienne (1722–1754) and Marie Elisabeth de Jullienne (Marie Elisabeth de Séré de Rieux, 1724–1795)
Artist:Charles Antoine Coypel (French, Paris 1694–1752 Paris)
Medium:Pastel, black chalk, watercolor, and traces of black chalk underdrawing on four joined sheets of handmade blue laid paper, mounted on canvas and adhered to a keyed stretcher
Dimensions:39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm)
Classification:Pastels & Oil Sketches on Paper
Credit Line:Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Annette de la Renta, 2011
The son of a professor at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Charles Antoine Coypel was received and admitted in 1715, at a session over which his father presided. Destined for success, in 1747 Charles Antoine was appointed first painter to King Louis XV of France. He was also a writer but his sketches for plays met with limited success, and only one was staged in Paris, at the Théâtre Italian in 1717. Coypel's oeuvre includes genre scenes, caricatures, and portraits in addition to historical and religious subjects in the grand manner. He was principally a painter and draftsman and his exceptional pastels are few in number. The earliest date to 1717 and represent Nicolas Charles Silvestre and his wife (private collection), fellow artists, and drawing masters to the children of the royal family. This double portrait, a recent acquisition, is among Coypel's latest and most accomplished: it displays dazzling control of pastel, chalk, and watercolor.
Traditionally, the sitters have been identified as François de Jullienne (1722–1754) and his wife, Marie Élisabeth de Séré de Rieux (1724–1795). The couple had married two years before, at eighteen and sixteen respectively. She held a rather more distinguished position in society and he brought wealth to the marriage, as the only surviving child of Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766), a highly successful Parisian textile merchant, collector of paintings and drawings, and patron of Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). We know little of François, who in 1743, the year in which he sat for his portrait, celebrated his twenty-first birthday. In 1744, his son having chosen not to enter the family business, Jean de Jullienne purchased for him the title of "gentilhomme ordinaire du roi". Presumably the childless couple lived the life of leisure and luxury which Jean de Jullienne was able to provide for them. François did not survive his father, whose celebrated collection was dispersed at public auction.
Katharine Baetjer 2011
Inscription: Signed and dated (at right, on chair frame): C. Coypel 1743
[Boin-Taburet, Paris, until 1906; sold through Carlhian & Beaumetz, Paris, for £1,236 to Duveen]; [Duveen, London and Paris, 1906–21, as "1 Old French pastel—portrait of a noble & his wife. Cte & Ctesse de Julienne"; sold for Fr 33,000 to Féral]; [Féral, Paris, from 1921]; sale, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, May 28–30, 1974, no. 44, as "Comte et Comtesse de Julonne," by C. Coypel, signed and dated 1743; private collection, Paris (by 2010–11; sold to The Met through Didier Aaron, Paris and New York)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe," May 17–August 14, 2011, no cat. number.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighteenth-Century Pastels," August 6–December 29, 2013, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighteenth-Century Pastel Portraits," July 26–October 29, 2017, no catalogue.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Thierry Lefrançois. Charles Coypel: Peintre du roi (1694–1752). Paris, 1994, pp. 327–28, no. P.224, ill.
Neil Jeffares. "Charles-Antoine Coypel." Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800. London, 2006, no. J.2472.171 [online edition, http://www.pastellists.com/articles/coypel.pdf, accessed 04/16/2019].
Isabelle Tillerot. Jean de Jullienne et les collectionneurs de son temps: un regard singulier sur le tableau. Paris, 2010, p. 364, no. 59.
Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelley. "Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Spring 2011), pp. 5, 8, 20, 39, ill. p. 4 (color, cropped) and back cover (color, detail).
Lucile Roche. "Le 'Portrait de M. et Mme Lavoisier' par Jacques-Louis David : Les antinomies du paraître." Master's thesis, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2011–12, p. 19, fig. 43.
Katharine B. Baetjer in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2010–2012." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Fall 2012), p. 41, ill. (color).
Neil Jeffares. Duveen's Pastels. December 18, 2018, unpaginated [https://neiljeffares.wordpress.com/], from study of the Duveen records, reports that Duveen sold this pastel in May 1906 to Mrs. T. Henry Mason and that she returned it to the dealer that August.
Neil Jeffares. Minutiae at the Met. March 29, 2019, unpaginated [https://neiljeffares.wordpress.com/2019/03/29/minutiae-at-the-met/], notes that Jullienne owned thirty-seven pastels.
Neil Jeffares. "Foreign Legion." Apollo 189 (April 2019), p. 103.
Katharine Baetjer. French Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the Early Eighteenth Century through the Revolution. New York, 2019, pp. 104–6, no. 24, ill. pp. 104, 388 (color, overall and detail), fig. 24.1 (label on back).
Colin B. Bailey. "Review of Baetjer 2019." Burlington Magazine 163 (May 2021), p. 470.
Lesley Ellis Miller inThreads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen. Ed. Emma Cormack and Michele Majer. Exh. cat., Bard Graduate Center Gallery. New York, 2022, p. 210, fig. 10.4 (color), observes that the man's shirt ruffles and woman's close-fitting cap marked a shift in style around the mid-eighteenth century away from cravats and "frelange" headdresses.
A painted variant of the pastel has the following history of ownership: Monsieur S. (until 1982; his posthumous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 23, 1982, no. 30, as "Un couple dans un intérieur" by Jean Valade); sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 25, 1991, no. 132 (as "Un couple dans son intérieur" by Jean Valade); sale, Christie's, New York, January 12, 1996, no. 82 (as "François de Jullienne standing beside his Wife" by Charles Coypel, bought in). The artist and sitters were identified by Thierry Lefrançois in his 1994 monograph. Pastel and painting are identical in size but only the pastel is signed and dated. The painted figures are smaller with respect to the canvas support and Madame de Jullienne wears only one lace ruffle and diamond brooch. She has a double chin; both she and her husband look older. M. de Jullienne wears a rose-colored waistcoat.
This work may not be lent, by terms of its acquisition by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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