Portrait of a Man
92.2 cm x 75.4 cm (36 5/16 in. x 29 11/16 in.)
Nicolas de Largillière
(Paris, France, 1656 - 1746, Paris, France)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
The Suida-Manning Collection
Nicolas de Largillière was one of the most prolific portraitists of his time, with more than 1500 portraits to his credit. He enjoyed the patronage of the royal families and aristocrats in England and France, who frequently had their painted likenesses reproduced as engravings in order to distribute them widely. Portraiture was generally reserved for the nobility as a means to display an individual’s lineage, social status, personal virtues, and fame. With the rise of the middle class in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, the bourgeoisie increasingly commissioned portraits of themselves, which is also reflected in Largillière’s oeuvre. The sitter’s casual garb and amiable attitude in this portrait may indicate his friendly relationship with the painter. More specifically, the elegantly unkempt dress, similar to that in Largillière’s portrait of the sculptor Nicolas Coustou painted around 1713, which is now in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, may suggest that the sitter is also an artist.