Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of George-Fréderic Bapst (1756-1826) 

Francois Guerin 

Portrait miniature of George-Fréderic Bapst (1756-1826), Francois Guerin
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Circular, 2 9/16 in (66 mm) diameter
Christie's, London, 21 October 1997, lot 43; Property of a European Gentleman
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Jean Urbain Guerin was one of the most celebrated French portrait miniature painters working towards the end of the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century.

He was taught initially by his father Christophe Guerin before learning beneath Jean-Baptise Regnault and Jacques Louis David, before finally seeking tutorage from the great Jean-Baptise Isabey, whose quality of work Guerin is known to have matched. In 1788 Guerin exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon, where he caused a sensation with his miniature of General Kleber (1753-1800), later borrowed by Napoleon for his mantelpiece and subsequently bought by the Louvre.

Guerin was patronised by Marie Antoinette as well as Louis XVI and was an avid Royalist supporter in the lead up to the French revolution, serving in the Battalion of the Filles-Saint Thomas who in 1792 defended Tuileries just prior to Marie Antoinette’s escape. Following the Queens capture, Guerin was banished and did not return until 1799 when the Consulate took government of France and it is during this period following his return that he learnt beneath Isabey.

George Frederic Bapst came from a dynasty of jewellers originating from Hall, Swabia in South Germany. Bapst’s father, Georges-Michel Bapst (1718-70) left Hall in 1743 and moved to Paris where he worked with his uncle Georges-Frederic Strass, the inventor of ‘Strass’– a flint glass stone with high lead content designed to imitate diamonds. After marrying his niece Suzanne-Elisabeth Strass (1737-89), George-Frederic Bapst was born and he continued the family business becoming in the process one of the most eminent jewellers in Paris. Bapst’s most notable commissions include a jewelled sword for Louis XVI and the Marie-Therese tiara [V&A].
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