The three quarter length original of 1752, on canvas, 142 x 110.5 cm, is in the Staatlichen Museum, Schwerin (H. Baudis in 1000 Jahre Mecklenburg, Landesausstellung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, exhibition catalogue, 25 June-15 October 1995, pp.317/8, n06.1, ill.). The Paris born portrait painter Charles Maucourt is now almost a forgotten master. His style reflects the influence of Hyacinthe Rigaud. He was the first French painter to have worked for the Mecklenburg-Schwerin court, after being active for the Mecklenburg-Strelitz court in 1750 (catalogue Schwerin 1954, pp.26/7). Christian Ludwig's love of French Rococo culture is reflected by the collection of paintings by Jean Baptiste Oudry, still in situ at Ludwigslust. Following the example set by the Dresden and the Berlin courts, he patronized German artists such as Johann Alexander Thiele and Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, who worked as court painters in Saxony, and Antoine Pesne and Balthasar Denner, who were active at the Berlin court (H. Baudis, op. cit., pp.317/8). See for Denner's rendering of 1735 of the sitter E. & J. Borchardt, Mecklenburgs Herzöge, 1991, p.96, ill.
The sitter was the son of Friedrich I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1638-1688) and Christine Wilhelmine, née Von Hessen-Homburg (1653-1722). He married Gustave Karoline, Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1694-1748) on 13 November 1714. He succeeded Karl Leopold to the throne in 1747, when he was already 64 years old, and he proved to be an able ruler. He managed to end the struggle between the Strelitz court and the Schwerin court in 1755, when both sides acknowledged each other's souvereinity. He dedicated himself to the fine arts and became the founding father of the Art Gallery of the Castle of Schwerin. His collection of Dutch 17th century pictures formed the basis of the collection in the Staatliches Museum, Schwerin. Furthermore, he tried to promote the theatre and was responsible for the foundation of the first German school of acting by Konrad Ekhof, in 1753 in Schwerin (E. & J. Borchardt, op. cit, p.99).
See colour illustration