Maurice Quentin de La Tour (French, 1704–1788)
Pastel on blue paper, arched top
sheet (original): 12 7/8 x 9 7/16 in. (32.7 x 24 cm)
Gift of Mary Tavener Holmes, in honor of Donald Posner, 2005 (2005.66)
Acclaimed for his ability to capture the inner spirit and intellect of his sitters, La Tour prepared his portraits by making rapid sketches from life, known by the French term prèparation. This direct and vivid study of the young king Louis XV was used by the artist to work up a more formal portrait in the studio. Recently rediscovered in a French private collection, Louis XV in Armor before Tournai was completed in 1745 and exhibited in the Salon of that year. The success of this work, along with a second portrait of the king in military garb exhibited in 1748 (Musèe du Louvre, Paris), established La Tour's reputation at the French court.