- Museum number
Portrait of Bishop Jacques Benigne Bossuet, after Rigaud; in clerical dress, standing holding a book before a tall column. 1723
- Production date
Height: 509 millimetres
Width: 347 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Text from the Highlights section of BM website)
The steady demand for engraved portraits of men prominent in public life led to a formidable accumulation of technical skills among French eighteenth-century engravers. Pierre Drevet was appointed Graveur du Roi ('Engraver to the King') in 1696, but his son Pierre-Imbert (1697-1739), who achieved the same position in 1729, surpassed him in virtuosity. This signed and dated portrait has always been regarded by print connoisseurs as a supreme example of the engraver's art.
Rigaud's painting displays the bishop in the grand manner, before a classical column enlivened by cascading drapery and distant clouds. Drevet's ability to conjure from engraved lines the very stuff of fabrics, the satins, velvets, furs and cotton falling over the body in light and shadow, is astounding. The deep border of richly worked lace trimming the bishop's surplice is mesmerizing in its illusionism. On the crumpled pages of the open books, which symbolize the bishop's erudition, intricate shadows and reflected lights are captured by Drevet's burin without apparent difficulty.
Rigaud (1659-1743) had been the principal painter to the court of Louis XIV, and painted an average of thirty-five portraits a year for sixty-two years. By contrast the younger Drevet had engraved just thirty-three plates before insanity put an end to his career in 1726 at the age of twenty-nine.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996 Apr-Jun, Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Landmarks in Print Collecting
1996 Jul-Sep, LA, Huntington Library and AG, Landmarks in Print Collecting
1996, Oct-Dec, Baltimore, Museum of Arts, Landmarks in Print Collecting
1997 Jan-Apr, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Landmarks in Print Collecting
2003/4 Sep-Jan, Tarragona, Sala Tarragona, Masters of Printmaking from BM
2004 Feb-April, Palma, Fundacio 'la Caixa', Masters of Printmaking from BM
2004 April-July, Lleida, Fundacio 'la Caixa', Masters of Printmaking from BM
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number