Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Louis Tocqué (Paris 1696-1772)
THE PROPERTY OF A NOBLEMAN
Louis Tocqué (Paris 1696-1772)

Abel-François Poisson de Vandières, Marquis de Marigny and Menars (1727-1781), directeur des Bâtiements du roi, three-quarter-length in an interior

Details
Louis Tocqué (Paris 1696-1772)
Abel-François Poisson de Vandières, Marquis de Marigny and Menars (1727-1781), directeur des Bâtiements du roi, three-quarter-length in an interior
oil on canvas
16¼ x 12¾ in. (41.3 x 32.4 cm.)

Lot Essay

The Marquis de Marigny was the brother of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson d'Etiolles, Marquise de Pompadour, better known as 'Madame de Pompadour', maitresse-en-titre (mistress) to Louis XV, King of France between 1745 and 1750, and his confidante until her death in 1764. Abel-François was educated at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, and in January 1746 he was designated to succeed Charles-François-Paul Le Normand de Tournehem, his sister's uncle by marriage, as Directeur-Général des Bâtiments, Jardins, Arts, Académies et Manufactures du Roi.

Marigny studied art theory with Charles-Antoine Coypel, Premier Peintre du Roi, and attended sessions of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. He enrolled at the academy for gentlemen of François Robichon de la Guérinière. In 1749-51 went on an extended Grand Tour of Italy, accompanied by the Abbé Le Blanc, the engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin II and the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot from Lyon, who was subsequently relaced by the architect Jérôme-Charles Bellicard. The Italian journey, which included a visit to the new archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum, was to influence Vandières's tastes as a patron and collector. He became Directeur-Général des Bâtiments in November 1751, aged 24.
Marigny oversaw the preparations for the opening in October 1750 of the first permanent exhibition, for the benefit of visitors and students, of the royal collection in the Palais du Luxembourg, Paris, and one of his earliest achievements as Directeur-Général was to clear and complete the Cour Carré of the Palais du Louvre, Paris, which had been left unfinished in 1683 at the time of the death of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Subsequently, in the late 1760s, he pursued projects that would have completed the palace for use as a centre of culture and learning, housing the royal library, the academies and the royal art collection. The financial turmoils resulting from the Seven Years War (1756-63) interrupted these works, leaving them uncompleted; the aim of housing a museum of art in the Louvre was achieved only during the French Revolution.

Marigny's other major commissions in Paris included the church of Ste Geneviève (1758-89; now the Panthéon), designed by Soufflot, and Ange-Jacques Gabriel's Place Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde), adorned by Edmé Bouchardon's equestrian monument to Louis XV, which was destroyed during the French Revolution. In painting, Marigny first made a mark by commissioning Joseph Vernet to make a series of topographical views of the Ports of France, and the resulting 15 canvases were used to celebrate the commercial, naval and natural prowess of France. Marigny appointed Cochin to oversee the administration of the arts, and he supported attempts to reinvigorate history painting, as well as supporting the creation of the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin, headed by Jean-Jacques Bachelier, to train artists for the craft industries. He also commissioned painted cartoons for tapestries of the Loves of the Gods, for the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, from François Boucher, Carle Vanloo, Joseph-Marie Vien and Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre.
Marigny remained a trusted friend and servant of Louis XV long after Mme de Pompadour's death in 1764, and he was rewarded by being made Conseiller d'Etat d'Epée, Secretary of the Order of Saint-Esprit and Captain-Governor of the château of Blois. Marigny retired from office at the age of 46, and became one of France's principal private patrons of the arts and architecture, increasingly devoting himself to his collections, houses and gardens, notably the château of Menars, near Blois, the Hôtel de Menars (formerly Massiac) in the Place des Victoires in Paris, and the villa Le Pâté-Pâris at Bercy.
The sales of Marigny's estate held from 1782 included many important objects, some of which Marigny had inherited from Mme de Pompadour; notably his collection of Dutch seventeenth-century paintings and of contemporary French pictures. The former included a pair of seascapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, View of the Shore at Egmond-aan-Zee (National Gallery, London) and the Zuider Zee Coast near Muiden (National Trust, Polesden Lacey, Surrey); among the latter were Antoine Watteau's Finette and L'Indifférent and Jean-Baptiste Greuze's the Marriage Contract (or L'Accordée du village; all in the Louvre, Paris). Marigny's collection of French and English furniture included a commode by Joseph Baumhauer with Japanese lacquer panels (1766; formerly with Didier Aaron, Paris) and a set of mahogany chairs designed by James Wyatt in 1778-9 and known from drawings in the Bibliothèque Doucet, Paris. Also sold was a piece of French sculpture that had been a royal gift to Marigny in 1762, the Fear of Cupid's Darts by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); and Sèvres porcelain and fine metalwork, including a Sèvres vase with a hidden spring-mounted equestrian statue in gold of Louis XV (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT).

There are several versions known of this composition, which was engraved by George Wille in 1761. The present painting, en grisaille, would appear to have painted in order that Wille could execute his engraving. The prime version, signed and dated 1755 and exhibited at the Salon that year, is today in the Musée de château de Versailles. Another version, formerly in the collection of the Dukes of Hamilton and Brandon, was sold, Sotheby's, Paris, 20 October, 2005, lot 23 E96,000 = $115,000). A sketch on paper was formerly in the collection of the Comtesse Odon de Lubersac.

More from Important Old Master Paintings, Part II

View All
View All