Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Charles-Ferdinand d'Artois, Duc de Berry (Duke of Berry) (1778-1820), wearing green uniform with red collar and gold lace, with the star of the Order of the St Esprit and the Order of the Legion d'Honneur, 1820 

Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin (1759-1832)

Portrait miniature of Charles-Ferdinand d'Artois, Duc de Berry (Duke of Berry) (1778-1820), wearing green uniform with red collar and gold lace, with the star of the Order of the St Esprit and the Order of the Legion d'Honneur, 1820, Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 90mm. (3 ½ in.) high
Private Aristocratic Collection
B. Pappe, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin 1759-1832, Une nouvelle excellence dans l’art du portrait en miniature, p.342, no.1003, 2015
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Original English ormolu frame with scalloped ‘shell’ corners and foliate engraving.

This magnificent, politically important portrait miniature of the Duke of Berry is dated 1820, and was taken during Jean Baptiste Jacques Augustin’s appointment as official painter to the King. This was also the year that the artist visited London. It was around this time that Augustin suffered from issues with his health, the result of which was the active participation of his pupils and his wife in his work.

Charles-Ferdinand, Duke of Berry, was the younger son of the Comte D’Artois, afterwards Charles X of France. At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 his father took him abroad and by 1792 was serving in the army of the Prince de Condé. He followed Condé to Russia, where he was given a cavalry regiment to command by Tsar Paul. From 1801-1814 he lived in England, marrying an Englishwoman called Emma (Amy) Freeman Brown, with whom he had two daughters (later Baronne de Charette and Comtesse de Faucigny-Lucinge). In 1814 the marriage was annulled and the duke returned to France. He spent time in Ghent during the Hundred Days War, returning once again to Paris in 1816. Upon his return to the city, he married Princess Maria Carolina Ferdinanda Louisa (1798-1870). Despite the formal arrangement of the marriage, it was a happy match and the couple had three children before tragedy struck.

When leaving the Opera House on the Rue de Richelieu on the 13th February 1820, a fanatic named Louis Pierre Louvel stabbed and mortally wounded the duke. His death marked a turning point in the history of the Restoration monarchy, hastening polarisation in the political parties and the downfall of the Decazes government. His wife gave birth, seven months after his death, to a ‘miracle child’, a son Henri, who received the title of Duc de Bordeaux, known as the Comte de Chambord. He became the focus and last hope for the Bourbon dynasty. This portrait miniature of the duke would have provided family and friends with a focus for their mourning. Its inclusion until recently in a British aristocratic collection possibly dates back to the Duchess’s time in England after the July Revolution of 1830, when it may have been presented as a gift to the family.

Both the Duke and Duchess of Berry were supporters of the arts and would have appreciated the high quality of Augustin’s portrait miniatures. Evidence of the duke’s open and honest manner is recorded in contemporary accounts, including the memoirs of Madame Vigée Le Brun (from whom he bought several important works) by Marie-Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun (1755-1842), "As for the Duke de Berri (sic), if he had not quite the same courtesy as his father, he was as clever, especially in that timely quickness of wit so useful to princes. His goodness of heart went so far that not only did he interest himself in everything that concerned his friends, but behaved toward the domestics of his household as the father of a family might have done. The Duke de Berri kept his revenues in good order; his heaviest expenses were occasioned by his taste for the arts, a predilection shared by his amiable wife."

Two further versions of this portrait have appeared on the open market, including at Sotheby’s, London (An Exceptional Eye: A Private British Collection, July 14, 2010, Lot 27). A smaller version is at the Fondation Napoléon (inv.985), set into a bracelet. After the death of the duke early in 1820, Augustin was kept busy with commissions repeating his original portrait. He was ably assisted with these by his pupils, including his wife, the talented Madeleine Pauline (1781-1865). His other pupils included Jean Baptiste Joseph Duchesne (1770-1856) and Aimée Zoé Lizinka de Mirbel (1796-1849), both of whom note assisting Augustin with such commissions that were then signed by the master himself.

This is possibly the only version of the portrait of the duke, which, until recently, was still in the possession of the aristocratic family to whom it was originally gifted. It is also one of only a handful of signed versions by Augustin. The fine English ormolu frame is original to the work.
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