Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Louis XV (1710-74), King of France (1715-74) in gilt-bordered armour, wearing a blue cloak decorated with gold fleur-de-lys 

Louis-Francois Aubert d. 1755

Portrait miniature of Louis XV (1710-74), King of France (1715-74) in gilt-bordered armour, wearing a blue cloak decorated with gold fleur-de-lys, Louis-Francois Aubert
Enamel on gold
18th Century
Oval, 2 in (50 mm) wide
Christie's, London, 15 December 1964, lot 240 (370 gns to Ellison); Christie's, London, 23 June 1981, lot 130; Edwin Bucher, Trogen, in 1984; Galerie Koller, Zurich, 12-18 November 1987, lot 1752.
S. Humair, 'Miniatures des rois et rois des miniatures', Le Figaro, 27-28 February 1982, illustrated p. 18 A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Renaissance jewels, gold boxes and objets de vertu, London, 1984, p. 31, fig. 16 S. Coffin and B. Hofstetter, The Gilbert Collection. Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, London, 2000, pp. 17 and 28, footnote 9
Louis-Francois Aubert was a highly successful painter of enamel portrait miniatures and worked closely amongst the court of King Louis XV (1710-1774).

Surprisingly, very little is known about the life and work of Aubert, especially given the fact he was working during a period when the arts in France were flourishing with exciting innovations in everything from architecture to interior design. As well as producing exceptional portrait enamels, Aubert was also celebrated for his enamel cameos or émaux er relief which he fired onto gold snuffboxes and gold watch cases. Perhaps his most famous commission of this design was a box he made for Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) in 1738.

The present work is one of only three recorded enamel portraits by Aubert, the other two also depicting Louis XV and dating between 1752-3. It is evident by studying all three works that Aubert preferred the length-ways format as opposed to the upright oval, presumably as it gave him ample room for foliage which he was well-known to have excelled in.

Louis XV was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who succeeded his great-grandfather to the French throne at the age of five, taking full control in 1743. The success of Louis’s reign has suffered posthumously, some scholars believing that his decisions, including the return of the Austrian Netherlands, reduced the nation’s power, whilst others believing that this negativity was perhaps drummed up for support of the French Revolution fifteen years after his death.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.