Louis-Jacques Pipereau de Bellevannes (d. 1787)

Pierre-Louis Durand French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 545

Pipereau de Bellevannes was an esteemed physician who delivered regular talks at the Paris University of Medicine where he received his doctorate in 1736. He is portrayed in his maturity, bewigged and clothed in academic robes and bands to indicate his professional status in enlightened France. The inscription on the perimeter includes the title recently awarded to him.

In the eighteenth century, portrait medallions intended for special presentation as gifts were typically cast or struck in the reproducible medium of bronze, the most precious among them embellished and lacquered to increase their beauty. By contrast, this sensitive, exquisitely refined portrait is unique, every detail carved by hand from iridescent mother-of-pearl (“nacre”). A renowned miniaturist of the Duc d’Orléans, Pierre-Louis Durand specialized in enamel painting and mother-of-pearl carvings. Praised by Diderot and granted an annuity by Louis XV, whose portrait he created, the artist exercised his virtuosic skill in executing this work.

Louis-Jacques Pipereau de Bellevannes (d. 1787), Pierre-Louis Durand (active Paris, 1742–1797), Mother-of-pearl; gilt bronze, French, Paris

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