Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Louis XV (1710-74) as a child wearing ceremonial robes and armour 

Benjamin Arlaud (c.1670 - after 1731)

Portrait miniature of Louis XV (1710-74) as a child wearing ceremonial robes and armour, Benjamin Arlaud
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 1 ½ in (3.3cm) high
 
Louis XV was king of France from 1715, succeeding to the throne of France upon the death of his great-grandfather, Louis XIV, who had reigned for more than seventy years. His reign was defined by lavish spending, which brought France to the edge of bankruptcy, and wars with England, Austria, the Ottoman Empire and Prussia. Called the ‘First Gentleman of Europe’ he was charming, handsome and intelligent.

The Swiss-born artist Benjamin Arlaud was the brother of Jacques Antoine Arlaud (1668-1746), both of whom lived and worked in England. Although his earliest dated portrait is of William III (1701), there is no evidence to suggest that this was painted in England and in all likelihood he arrived in London in 1704. Travelling between London and the continent, he was patronized by nobility and recorded the faces in miniature of the victors at Blenheim, including those of Marlborough, Prince Eugene of Savoy and Baron North.

Although relatively little is known about Benjamin Arlaud his work is of consistent high quality and appears in many important collections, including those of the Duke of Buccleuch and the Duke of Portland. Along with his brother he ran a studio producing portrait miniatures of the exiled royal Stuarts at their court in St. Germain. His illustrious patrons may have turned to his brother Jacques Antoine for their commissions after his death, as he is said to have arrived in London circa 1721 with a letter of introduction to Caroline, Princess of Wales.
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