Attributed to Henri-Pierre Danloux

(Paris 1753–1809)

Portrait of a Boy, half-length, seated at a table, his dog beside him

30 1/8 x 25 in. (76.6 x 63.5 cm.)
oil on canvas

Provenance:

Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s, London, 10 November 1993, lot 68 (acquired post-sale).
Private collection.
Sale, Sotheby’s, London, 23 September 2020, lot 95, when acquired by the present owner.

Catalogue Entry

Fig. 1. Henri-Louis Danloux, Portrait of Lum A’Kao, oil on canvas, 92 x 71 cm., Private collection.

Fig. 2. Henri-Pierre Danloux, Portrait of a Boy, detail.

Henri-Pierre Danloux was a French painter who worked primarily as a portraitist between the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth century. After studying genre painting with Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié (1735–1784), he trained with academic painter Joseph-Marie Vien (1716–1809), a promoter of Neoclassical ideals, whose pupils in the 1770s included Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825). Alike David, in 1775, Danloux followed Vien to Rome. He remained in Italy until 1783, the year he settled in Lyon before moving to Paris in 1785. As his reputation as a portraitist grew, he received increasing commissions from the aristocracy. In 1789, he was commissioned to paint portraits of the French Royal Family. Two years later, he exhibited at the Salon for the first time. A committed royalist, Danloux fled to London in 1792 to escape the aftermath of the French Revolution. The following year, he exhibited at the Royal Academy – where he showed his portraits regularly until 1800 – and painted one of his most famous portraits, the Portrait of Lum A’Kao (Fig. 1). Early in 1802, Danloux returned to Paris, where he spent the last eight years of his life struggling to establish himself as a history painter.1

Fig. 3. Henri-Pierre Danloux, The Masters Fosters, oil on canvas, formerly in the collection of Sir James Bowker.

Fig. 4. Henri-Pierre Danloux, The Family of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, 127 x 101 cm., 1798, The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, KT, Bowhill.

In the present canvas, Danloux portrayed the half-length figure of a boy with long, blond hair falling down to the shoulders, touching the collar of a dark blue tailcoat. The sitter wears a fitted beige waistcoat over a plain, white linen shirt. As he looks outside the canvas, his cheeks redden. A black top hat and a pair of leather gloves rest on a wooden table, from where a small dog with a red collar, comfortably encircled by his owner’s arm, stares at the viewer. The sitter is set against a flat background, where, in the upper right corner, an inscription in gilded letters appears: ‘RICHARD LOVETT.’ (Fig. 2). The boy has recently been identified with Richard Donoughmore Lovett (1809–1880), son of Sackville Lovett (ca.1763–1844) and his second wife Bridget Seaver (1771–1844).2 Such an identification would however stand against the attribution to Danloux, which was made on the same occasion.3 Danloux died in Paris on January 3, 1809, the same year Richard Lovett was born.4 This leads one to hypothesize that the inscription was added to the painting at a later stage. The descendants of the Lovett family might have inscribed the boy’s name on the canvas to preserve his memory, after identifying him incorrectly. Indeed, similar inscriptions were uncommon in portraiture during Danloux’ times and they are nowhere to be seen in any of the artist’s paintings.

Fig. 5. Henri-Pierre Danloux, Lady Anne Elizabeth Scott (1796–1844), oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76.2 cm., 1799, Bowhill House, Selkirk.

If the portrayed were indeed a Lovett, he might have been one of Richard’s older brothers, perhaps Jonathan Vaughn (1790–1850) or Sackville Hamilton (1790–?), who were both eleven years old – about the age of the sitter – when Danloux left London. Although the exact identity of the boy remains unclear, his link to the Lovett family suggests the artist probably painted the portrait during his stay in Britain. There, Danloux found a receptive clientele among the French émigré community, including the exiled Royal Family, and also succeeded in obtaining portrait commissions from British patrons. In Britain, he painted 135 documented portraits, of which 44 were of British sitters.5 As was customary for expat artists at the time, Danloux adapted his art to the taste of British clients, who tended to prefer native portraitists like John Hoppner (1758–1810), George Romney (1734–1802) and William Beechey (1796–1856). Danloux had looked at British art before moving to London,6 yet it was only after his arrival there that a change in his style occurred. He deliberately abandoned much of his French ‘finish’ and the minutely detailed rendering of individual objects in favour of a looser handling of paint and greater warmth of colour, which characterised the English style of the period.7 This is exemplified in the present work by the creamy areas of colour defining the volumes of the boy’s waistcoat and shirt, the loose rendering of his hair and eyebrows through vigorous, rapid brushstrokes, and by the gloves in the foreground, which seem to dematerialise on the table. The simplification of the setting, which was often pompous in several of Danloux’ French portraits, also derives from the artist encounter with British portraiture.8

Fig. 6. George Romney, The Honourable Reverend Anchitel Grey, oil on canvas, 74 x 71 cm., 1781-1786, Dunham Massey, Cheshire.

Fig. 7. Henry Raeburn, John Stuart Hepburn Forbes, later 8th Baronet of Monymusk, and of Fettercairn and Pitsligo, 1804–1866, oil on canvas, 133.9 x 108.6 cm, circa 1809–1813, National Galleries Scotland, Edinburgh.

Fig. 8. Henry Raeburn, The Macdonald Children, oil on canvas, 143 x 114 cm., circa 1798–1800, Upton House, Warwickshire.

During his stay in Britain, Danloux excelled in family and children’s portraits, receiving a large number of commissions after he exhibited The Masters Fosters (formerly in the collection of Sir James Bowker, Fig. 3) at the Royal Academy in 1793. In portraits such as the Portrait of the family of the 3rd Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch (1796–1798, Bowhill, Fig. 4), the Portrait of George Henri, Lord Scott (1798–1808) and Lady Anne Elizabeth Scott (1796–1844, Fig. 5), Danloux painted the sitters in the company of their pets. As pet-keeping became popular in eighteen-century Britain – a time when family portraits became more intimate and sentimental than in the previous century9 – pet started to appear in paint to immortalise the affectionate relation between them and their owners. Artists such as Romney, Danloux’ main source of inspiration, and Henri Raeburn (1756–1823) painted numerous portraits of children accompanied by their loyal dogs, including The Honourable Reverend Anchitel Grey, as a Boy (Fig. 6) by the former, and John Stuart Hepburn Forbes (Fig. 7) and The Macdonald Children (Fig. 8) by the latter. In Portrait of a Boy, Danloux reinforced the relation between the two figures by depicting the sitter placing a protective arm around his pet. The immediate precedents for this type of composition are the numerous variations on the theme of child and dog popularised by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) (Fig. 9), some of which Danloux might have seen in the Buccleuch collection or in the form of engravings.10 During his regular sojourns in Scotland between 1796 and 1800,11 Danloux might also have come into contact with Gainsborough’s Portrait of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch (1770, Fig. 10) or one of its engravings (Fig. 11), which repeat the motif of the dog tenderly resting his paw upon his owner’s arm.

Fig. 9. Sir Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Miss Jane Bowles, oil on canvas, 91 x 70,9 cm., c. 1775, The Wallace Collection, London.

Fig. 10. Thomas Gainsborough, Henry Douglas- Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, oil on canvas, 1770, Private collection.

Fig. 11. After Thomas Gainsborough, Henry Douglas-Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, mezzotint, published on 11 June 1771, The Royal Collection Trust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dog in the present work has some attributes of an English toy terrier, a small, smooth-coated black and tan dog with pointed, erect ears and round, lively dark eyes. Tracing its ancestry back to the black and tan ratting terriers documented in England since the sixteenth century, during the nineteenth century toy terriers became very popular as companion dogs among the upper middle classes. Devoted and affectionate dogs, they were considered well-suited for living environments and typically good with well-behaved children. By having both the boy and his dog look straight outside the canvas, Danloux presents them as a unified pair, as if the painting were a double portrait. To early nineteenth-century viewers, who were used to read animals behaviour as mirroring that of their owner, the devotion and calmness of the little dog were revelatory of the sitter’s sober restraint. In his famous treatise Natural History, French natural historian Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, had indeed reserved the dog a special place in the history of human evolution, suggesting it to naturally inherit the characteristics of its owner.12 From this perspective, the portrait presents the image of a mannered, well-educated individual, pride of his family, whose name he would carry on in the future.13

 

1 The main source of information about Danloux is Baron Roger Portalis, Henri-Pierre Danloux. Peintre de Portraits et son Journal durant l’Émigration (1753-1809), (Paris, 1910).
2 Sotheby’s, London, Old Master Paintings, 23 September 2020, lot 95.
3 Ibid.
4 For genealogical information on the Lovett family, see https://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/records/sackville-hatch-lovett-24-7w1c6. Last accessed on March 27, 2021.
5 Angelica Goodden, The French Émigrés in Europe and the Struggle against Revolution, 1789–1814, edited by Kirsty Carpenter and Philip Mansel, (London, Macmillan Press, 1999), p. 166.
6 See, for example, the theatre scenes Danloux painted in the manner of Zoffany after his second stay in Italy. Olivier Meslay, “Henri-Pierre Danloux (1753-1809), sa carrière avant l’exil en Angleterre,” in Bulletin de la Société de l’Art Français, Paris, 2007, pp. 213 and 238.
7 This is confirmed by one of the most eminent visitors to his London studio, the Marquess of Bute, former Prime Minister to George III, who affirmed, in regard to Danloux, that he “was greatly pleased with the artist’s progress and that he was adopting the English manner.” See, “A French Painter in Exile: Henri-Pierre Danloux (1753-1809),” in France in the National Galleries of Scotland, (Edinburgh: Trustees of The National Galleries of Scotland, 1985), p. 33.
8 Meslay, “Henri-Pierre Danloux (1753-1809),” p. 239.
9 For a detailed study on the theme, see Kate Retford, The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006).
10 “A French Painter in Exile,” p. 48.
11 Stephen Lloyd, “’Elegant and Graceful Attitudes’: The Painter of the ‘Skating Minister’”, in The Burlington Magazine, Jul. 2005, Vol. 147, no. 1228, pp. 483-484.
12 Natural History, General and Particular by the Count de Buffon, translated into English, 9 vols. 2nd edition, ed. William Smellie (London, 1785), 3:4.
13 For a moral reading of Danloux’ portraits executed in Britain, see A. Davison, “The Iconography of an èmigé musician: Henri-Pierre Danloux’s 1795 Portrait of Jan Ladislav Dussek,” in Early Music, Vol. XXXVII, no. 2, pp. 175-185.

Condition:

The canvas is lined, and the paint surface is clean with a clear varnish. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals very little intervention underneath the streaky varnish – tiny spots scattered in the boy’s hair, as well as a few in the background and along the upper margin. The work is in overall very good condition.

Related Works