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Portrait of Sébastien Bourdon (1616-1671)

Laurent Cars

Artwork Details

Portrait of Sébastien Bourdon (1616-1671)
Laurent Cars
engraving on heavy off-white laid paper
15 1/16 in x 10 3/8 in (38.26 cm x 26.35 cm)
Museum Purchase

On Display

Not currently on display



Gallery Rotation Fall 2013
Laurent Cars
France, 1699–1771
Portrait of Sebastien Bourdon (1616–1671) (after Hyacinthe Rigaud)
Museum purchase, 1930.6
Unlike Karl Dujardin, who principally highlights the qualities of his sitter in the adjacent print, Cars makes a statement about his own artistic skills in this engraved portrait of the artist Sebastien Bourdon (1616–1671) done after a painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743), one of the most famous aristocratic portraitists of the day. The dignified Bourdon is seen through an aperture constructed of rusticated stone, which doubles as a frame. His accoutrements—which include a portfolio, palette, book, scroll, brushes, easel, and canvas—are prominently displayed. This engraving underlines both the elevated status of the sitter, who, according to the inscription, was the official painter to the king, as well as Cars’s skill in producing a representational tour de force, evident as much in the visage of the sitter as in the varied objects and textures that he elaborately and convincingly depicts. Bourdon’s elaborate costume is especially noteworthy, in particular the silk garment that wraps across his torso, concealing his arms and hands, and then cascades towards the right foreground.

Subject Matter:

In order to be admitted to the Académie Royale, portrait engravers were required to create two engraved portraits. This portrait of the painter Sébastien Bourdon was one of the prints Cars produced as his reception piece to gain admittance to the Académie as an engraver. The conventions that governed official portraiture from the period are evident in this engraving, which is after a painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud now in the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt. The figure is framed within an octagonal stone frame surrounded by the materials of his profession: easel and canvas, paper, palette, brushes, and a book. Another feature common to these portraits was the use of drapery, either inside the framework or outside of it. Cars’ ability to denote different textures is evident in this work: the velvet coat and waving hair contrast with the sheen of the satin drapery, which cascades across the stone frame forward into the viewer’s space.

Physical Description:

;A young man with long hair looks over his shoulder at the viewer through an illusionistically described stone octagonal aperture. A heavy satin cloth cascades from his right shoulder towards the viewer and through the opening. On the near side of this rusicated aperture are the palette, brushes, drawing folio and a book, indentifying the sitter as an artist, the identification further secured by the canvas on an easle seen behind the figure.

Usage Rights:

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