Attributed to Jacques-Joseph de Gault
(French, ca. 1738-1812)
"Double-Sided Portrait Miniature of a French Republican Dignitary, Probably Jean-Etienne Championnet (1762-1800), the Reverse with Cupid and Psyche in Blue Grisaille"
watercolor and gouache
unsigned, the miniature in a French 18k gold pendant inset with a split pearl surround, loop of pendant with Paris gold marks, 1794-1798.
Mounted in a presentation box frame.
medallion dia. 3", box 13-1/4" x 13-1/4"
Provenance: Estate of Dr. Carroll Ball, Jackson, Mississippi.
Notes: Championnet was an important major-general in the French Revolution. He is best known for leading the armies of Rome and of Italy in 1798-1799, thus establishing the Parthenopean Republic - a French First Republic in the Kingdom of Naples territory. He is commemorated on the list of names inscribed on the Arc-de-Triomphe. French Revolution cockards and medallions were typically affixed to the lapel or breast in the form of a brooch (called necklet); honorary ones were also fashioned to be worn around the neck. In his series "Collection des Grands Hommes" of the Revolution by Jean Francois Garneray, Joseph Chalier is depicted with the same tricolor neck ribbon as Championnet. Garneray also portrayed a few other dignitaries with tricolor necklets, neck ribbons and sashes.
Jacques-Joseph de Gault, to whom this portrait is attributed, was a former Sevres painter, who trained at the Academie de Saint-Luc in Paris. He specialized in portrait miniatures and was a trompe-l'oeil master. He perfected grisaille and faux painting, creating the illusion of porcelain and enamel, notably the blue grisaille (featured on the reverse of this portrait), which mimicked works by Sevres and Wedgwood. De Gault was the also the first artist to paint imitation gems in enamel on snuff boxes.