With his luxurious, flamboyant dress—a voluminous wrap of scarlet silk topped by a short fur cape—the subject of Hyacinthe Rigaud’s portrait was clearly a man of consequence. Guillaume Dubois gained the favor of Louis XIV as tutor to his nephew, Philippe Charles, Duke of Orléans, and served as chief minister under Louis’s successors, the regent Duke of Orléans and Louis’s great-grandson, Louis XV. Dubois was appointed a Cardinal in the Catholic Church in 1721, a lofty aspiration at least partly motivated by political ambition: the title gave him the ability to remove political adversaries with impunity. Dubois holds a letter with the words Au Roy (to the king); this portrait was painted in the same year the young Louis XV ascended to the throne.
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