Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing dark blue uniform with red collar and lapels, his dark blue hat with gold braid, seated in a prison cell, a letter in his left hand inscribed ‘Paris/ 20 9bre/ 1816’ 

 French School 

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing dark blue uniform with red collar and lapels, his dark blue hat with gold braid, seated in a prison cell, a letter in his left hand inscribed ‘Paris/  20 9bre/ 1816’,  French School
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Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Circular, 70mm (2 3/4 in) diam.
 
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This unusual portrait depicts a prisoner in his cell, daylight coming from a barred window. The letter he holds is inscribed with a date and place, noting that the prisoner (a soldier) is probably incarcerated in a Parisian gaol. It has not been possible to establish his crime, but the letter dates the miniature to shortly after the second restoration of the French monarchy with Louis XVIII on the throne, ‘9bre’ noting not the month of September but November. The prisoner may have been a political demonstrator, one of the many militia with the National Guard, who were banned from such demonstrations by the minister of police, Eli duc Decazes, from July 1816.

It has not been possible to identify the uniform with any certainty but it has been suggested that it bears a close resemblance to a Prussian overcoat.
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