Circle of Louis Tocqué, c.1761
Cardinal Choiseul de Beaupré (1707-1774)
Oil on canvas; 32 by 26 ins; 82 x 66 cm; held in an 18th century style frame
Provenance: European noble family until the early 20th century
Guide Price: £4950
Stock #: 0608
Antoine Clériade de Choiseul-Beaupré was born on the 28th September 1707 at Chateau Daillecourt in the Haute-Marne region of France. He studied theology in Paris later being ordained and becoming Vicar-General of the Mende diocese. He was elected archbishop of Besançon, in March, 1755 and created Cardinal Priest by Pope Clement XIII in November 1761. He became Chaplain to the King of Poland in 1764 and went on to participate in the conclave of 1769 which elected Pope Clement XIV. He died on the 7th January, 1774 at Besançon and is buried in the Cathedral. Family details are obscure but his father appears to be Antoine, Comte de Choiseul, Marquis de Beaupré (1664-1726), a Lieutenant-General in the Kings Army who married Anne-Francoise Barillon Morangis in 1695.
Louis Tocqué, a well patronised portrait painter based largely in Paris was a great admirer of the earlier French masters of the genre Hyacinthe Rigaud and Nicolas de Largillierre. The present portrait clearly displays these influences in its style and manner. The engaging broad face of the Cardinal, meticulously described by the artist's brush, contrasts well with the expanse of red fabric which constitutes the Mozzetta, the short elbow length cape. This expanse of colour significantly highlights the gold pectoral cross and with no other ornament in the composition conveys the sitter as a man of God unencumbered by worldly goods. The chiaroscuro, together with the smooth polished finish in the face particularly echoes works by Rigaud, and furthermore, is reminiscent of the head of Nikita Demidoff (Colhaghi, 1996) in a portrait by Tocque painted in 1758, all of which indicates that this portrait was completed by a talented painter. Given that Clériade was created Cardinal in late 1761, and noting the apparent age of the sitter, this painting must have been undertaken sometime soon after.
Reference: Salvator Miranda "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church", Florida International University