Watercolor on ivory in a gilt metal and enamel frame
Framed: 5.8 x 5.2 cm (2 5/16 x 2 1/16 in.); Unframed: 3.9 x 3.3 cm (1 9/16 x 1 5/16 in.)
The Edward B. Greene Collection 1942.1134
As the official miniaturist for the French court of Louis XVIII, Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin produced portraits of many elite personalities. This miniature features Louis Stanislas Xavier, King Louis XVIII, in military costume. Taking the throne after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis ruled from 1814 to 1824, except for a brief period in 1815 when Napoleon escaped from exile and regained power. This type of official portrait in miniature was useful as a diplomatic gift and was probably commissioned in large numbers. In fact, there are two versions of this miniature in the museum's collection, one in enamel and this one in watercolor on ivory. The king's medals and honors are conspicuously depicted in this portrait. On the left side of his blue military jacket is the large silver star of the Order of the Holy Ghost placed above the star of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus. The cross of Saint Louis is suspended from a red ribbon looped through the button hole, above which hangs from a green ribbon an incomplete depiction of the star of Saint Lazarus. All of these orders were established by Louis's royal predecessors and had been abolished during the years of revolution in the late 18th century. Louis XVIII reinstated the orders and worked to reestablish and expand their membership during his reign. The recipient of this miniature would have seen the various medals and acknowledged the sitter's royal lineage and monarchic power. Ashley Bartman (May 2014)
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