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Matthew Prior

Alexis-Simon Belle

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 899

Belle depicted Prior, who served as a British minister to France, wearing a long, powdered wig and formal French dress. The sealed letter in the sitter’s right hand is addressed "Au Roi très Chrétien" (To His Most Christian King), a reference to the diplomatic credentials he presented to Louis XIV. Prior was charged with improving relations between the two countries, which had fought on opposite sides during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Matthew Prior, Alexis-Simon Belle, Oil on canvas, French

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By permission of the Master and Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge