The present portrait is a fine example of an ad-vivuum sketch, executed in only a few hours by Rigaud. Such studies would have been used by the artist in the completion of larger finished portraits in his studio. The present work can be compared to the other unfinished 'brillantes pochades' like the Portrait of the sculptor Girardon (Lastic collection, Parentignat, France) and to the Portrait of the engraver Gérard Edelinck (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Occasionally the artist would work up such studies and actually paste them into the finished picture, as can be seen in the Portrait of Bossuet in the Musée du Louvre.
Another version of the present portrait, oil on paper, bust-length (52 x 43cm.), is in the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland.
Dominique Brême has suggested that the sitter could be the sculptor Robert Le Lorrain (1766-1743) aged around fifty years old at the time of the painting, which he dates circa 1712-8. The same expression and details of the face can be observed in two other portraits of the sculptor: one executed by Hubert Drouais in 1730 (Musée du Louvre) and another by Donat Nonotte known from the engraving by Tardieu dated 1749. The absence of any mention of the present portrait in the artist's Livre de raison can be explained by the fact that he usually offered his portraits of fellow artists to the sitters as tokens of friendship.
We are grateful to Dominique Brême for suggesting the attribution to Rigaud and his assistance in cataloguing this lot.