Oil on canvas
Framed: 153.5 x 121.5 x 13.5 cm (60 7/16 x 47 13/16 x 5 5/16 in.); Unframed: 124.5 x 92.4 cm (49 x 36 3/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1964.89
Smoke rising from the candle suggests that du Theil has just added his molten wax seal to the document before him.
As secretary of foreign affairs for Louis XV of France, Jean-Gabriel du Theil (1685–1755) helped negotiate the 1738 Treaty of Vienna, which ceded the Duchy of Lorraine to France. The seal du Theil holds in his hand, the silver-gilt writing set, and the thick document all allude to these negotiations, while the wisp of smoke rising from the candle used to melt the sealing wax suggests that the treaty has only just concluded. Du Thiel’s relaxed posture conveys calm assurance, but his sharp gaze is that of a shrewd negotiator. A costume encrusted with gold embroidery and (just visible at his chest) the pink ribbon and star of the royal Order of Saint Lazarus, are visible manifestations of du Theil’s prestigious position.
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