Portrait of Monsieur Aublet

Guillaume Voiriot French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 629

Guillaume Voiriot is first mentioned in records of the Paris painters’ guild, the Académie de Saint-Luc, in 1736. Ten years later he arrived in Rome for further study, visited Naples, and returned by way of Florence, Bologna, and Turin in 1748–49, reaching Paris in December 1749. Voiriot secured preliminary admission to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture as a portraitist in 1757 and was elected to full membership two years later, presenting portraits of Jean-Marc Nattier (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre (Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon). Between 1759 and 1791, he exhibited a total of seven times at the Salon; from 1773 to 1787 he did not contribute. Voiriot was an active member of the Académie Royale and in 1785 achieved the rank of conseiller. He left a small body of work.

Writing about the Salon de la Correspondance in 1782, Pahin de la Blancherie described Voiriot’s portrait of Monsieur Aublet as among the painter’s best, suave and harmonious in color and very correctly drawn (Nouvelles de la République des Lettres et des Arts, no. 23, June 19, 1782, p. 180). It joined a pastel self-portrait by Madame Guiard and her pastel portraits of her close companion, François André Vincent, and Voiriot himself. Pahin stated that Voiriot’s portrait of Aublet had been greatly admired – "fort applaudi" – when exhibited previously at the Salon. While there is no other record that this portrait had been displayed before, this is possible, as Voiriot sent works described as "Plusieurs Portraits [or ‘Autres Portraits’] sous le même Numéro" to the official Salon of the Académie Royale in 1759, 1761, 1763, 1767, and 1771.

A black satin suit usually suggested some professional rank or official function, but Aublet’s coat has unusually wide sleeves, and his ruff is an element of fancy dress most often associated with the theater. The hat with a blue band and feather provides a further exotic or historicizing element. The Museum owns a guitar similar to the one he plays: it is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Voboam based on an engraved inscription on the face of the instrument reading "Voboam A Paris 1697" (1989.147). Elaborate interiors are typical of Voiriot’s larger portraits. Aublet is seated on an upholstered chair in the Louis XV style beside a music stand resting on a table covered with a flowered, perhaps Near Eastern, carpet. The signature, if it is one, is atypical: Voiriot signed infrequently, but when he did so, he usually used his last name and a date.

Further details about the sitter remain unknown, though Voiriot portrayed a relatively large number of musicians and actors.

[adapted from Baetjer 2019]

Portrait of Monsieur Aublet, Guillaume Voiriot (French, Paris 1713–1799 Paris), Oil on canvas, French

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