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
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.
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. Given that Clériade was created Cardinal in late 1761, and noting the apparent age of the sitter, this painting must have been undertaken sometime around this time, probably in Rome.
Reference: Salvator Miranda “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church”, Florida International University