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Jean-Baptiste Regnault

(1754–1829, Paris)

Self-portrait. Lithograph on buff wove paper. 21.5 x 17.5 cm. 1817. With a dedication in his own hand: “Regnault à son élève et son ami le 14 juin 1817”.
Not in Béraldi or Le Blanc.

Before embarking on his career as a painter Jean-Baptiste Regnault travelled as a young man with his father to America and Africa and served for several years in the navy as a ship’s boy. After returning home he turned his attention to painting, for which he soon demonstrated a considerable talent. In 1768 he joined his teacher Jean Bardin on a journey to Rome, where he spent several years studying the newly emergent classicist trend. In 1776, when he was just 22 years of age, Regnault was awarded the coveted Prix de Rome for his painting Alexander and Diogenes. Back in Paris he studied under Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié and Joseph-Marie Vien and was appointed a member of the Academy in 1783. Regnault regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon. His often highly commended works are mostly devoted to mythological and historical topics and on rare occasions deal with religious themes.

While he was a prolific painter, his activities as an etcher resulted in no more than a handful of works which are now hard to find. This extremely rare self-portrait, which is not recorded in the critical literature, shows Regnault at the age of sixty-three. While the medal pinned to his lapel provides an indication of the celebrated artist’s social status, his intimate portrait radiates modesty and introspection. The dedication in his own hand confirms that this is a gift made to a friend that was evidently printed in a very small edition. The soft grain of the lithographic chalk produces a gentle chiaroscuro and gives the portrait a wonderful lustre. Regnault painted an identical self-portrait in reverse that is now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes (inv. no. P 46.1.291).

6.500 €

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