|John Klawitter's painting
I recently received an email from John Klawitter asking me about this painting which he and his wife had inherited. It is a portrait of an unknown gentleman by an unknown painter and he wondered if I could shed any light on it.
What does the painting show us?
The gentleman is wearing a dark, probably blue, double-breasted coat with a red ribbon on his left lapel. His shirt collar is high and he wears a white neck cloth adorned by some kind of silver brooch. His hair is dark and wavy and he has sideburns, which look quite similar to Beau Brummell’s.
from The History of White's
by Hon Algernon Bourke (1892)
|"Campo Vaccino" - the Roman Forum
from A New Picture of Rome by Marien Vasi (1824)
The clothes and hairstyle would indicate that the portrait was probably painted in the early 19th century. The ruins in the background immediately suggested to me that it might have been painted to celebrate the gentleman’s Grand Tour – probably painted in Rome, as often happened.
Armed with these clues I searched on the internet for early 19th century portrait artists who had painted in Rome. I came up with the name of the French painter Jacques-Louis David, but I was by no means convinced. Then I looked at the work of his pupil, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and to my amazement and delight, there was the gentleman in the painting amongst his work!
The gentleman finds a name
The subject of the portrait is Charles-Joseph-Laurent Cordier and on some websites the painting title gives an indication of who he was: "Charles Cordier (1777-1870), Inspecteur des domaines à Rome et Paris."
He was painted in oils by Ingres in 1811 who was based at the Villa Medici in Rome at this time. The painting is owned by the Louvre, Paris.
But who painted this portrait?
One mystery solved. But the other question remains: who painted John’s portrait?
John’s painting differs from the one in the Louvres by a few details such as the fob. Could Ingres have made the copy himself or was it painted by another artist? Was it a contemporary copy or was it painted many years after? Any ideas?
Sources used include:
Bourke, Hon. Algernon, The History of White's (1892)
Vasi, Marien, A New Picture of Rome and its environs, in the form of an itinerary (1824)