The academician Charles Antoine Coypel was appointed First Painter to Louis XV of France in 1747. His oeuvre includes genre scenes, satirical caricatures, portraits, and historical and religious subjects in the grand manner. His exceptional pastels are few in number. This double portrait is among Coypel’s latest and most accomplished: it displays dazzling and unerring control of a variety of materials—principally pastel but also chalk and watercolor. Traditionally, the sitters have been identified as François de Jullienne (1722–1754) and his young wife, Marie Élisabeth de Séré de Rieux (1724–1795). François was the son of Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766), a wealthy textile merchant, collector of paintings, and patron of Antoine Watteau (1684–1721).
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
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 MMA 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.
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).
Katharine B. Baetjer in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2010–2012." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Fall 2012), p. 41, ill. (color).
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.
Artist: Charles Antoine Coypel (French, Paris 1694–1752 Paris)Date: early 18th centuryMedium: Black, white, and touches of red chalk on blue paper, lightly squared in black chalkAccession: 62.19On view in:Not on view
Artist: Charles Antoine Coypel (French, Paris 1694–1752 Paris)Date: 18th centuryMedium: Black chalk (stumped) with touches of red chalk, heightened with white; squared in black chalk, framing lines in pen and brown inkAccession: 1972.224.2On view in:Not on view