This recently discovered portrait is an interesting addition to the known smaller works of François de Troy. As well as undertaking reduced versions of larger canvasses for some of his clients, some being copies of paintings by Rigaud, de Troy also painted, due to a certain popularity, a number of small finished portraits such as the one presented here. This particular portrait appears to relate directly to a chalk sketch in the National Museum, Stockholm, depicting a gentleman lawyer in a very similar stance, suggesting perhaps a working drawing for this picture.
François de Troy was one of a family of artists, born in Toulouse, to the painter Nicolas de Troy (c.1608-1684). He was taught the basic skills of painting by his father and some time after 1662 went to Paris to study portrait painting under Claude Lefebvre and Nicolas-Pierre Loir. In 1671 he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale de peinture et de sculpture and in 1674 received into the Academy as a history painter, predominantly engaged in religious and mythological subjects. During this time he became friendly with Roger de Piles who introduced him to the style and manner of Dutch and Flemish painting, however after the death of Claude Lefebvre in 1675 de Troy changed direction to become almost exclusively a portrait artist, shrewdly aiming at commissions from Lefebvre’s former clients.
Thus established, he built up a steady practice including ambassadors and royalty, and as a result of such commissions he was able to work continuously in court circles for almost fifty years. Admired for his ability to capture the upper classes and their preoccupation with manners and fashion he was perhaps more importantly said to have the ability to make any woman look beautiful. In the 1690s, de Troy became the principal painter to the court of King James II in exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and later, in 1698, he was appointed a Professor of the Académie Royale, become Director in 1708. An experienced engraver as well as a painter he left an impressive body of work and influenced a number of successive artists including, obviously, his son Jean-François, Alexis Simon-Belle and the Dutch London based portraitist John Closterman. He died in Paris at the age of eighty-five.
Examples of his work can be found throughout France, including in Paris the Louvre, Versailles and Musee Carnavalet.
Dominique Brême, Director of the Musée de l’Ile-de-France in Sceaux and de Troy expert has confirmed the attribution on close inspection of the painting in 2010.