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Jean-Joseph Baléchou

(1716 Arles – 1764 Avignon)

Portrait of Jean de Julienne Ecuyer, Chevalier de l’Ordre de St Michel. Engraving after François de Troy. 48.8 x 36 cm. 1752. Inventaire du Fonds Français, vol. 1, p. 426, no. 50.

In the first half of the 18th century the Parisian businessman and patron, Jean de Julienne (1686–1766), built up a very substantial and innovative art collection consisting of some five hundred paintings. A prominent place in this collection was taken by works of contemporary French painters such as Lemoyne, Watteau, Pater, Lancret, Challe, etc., all of which had to satisfy his stringent quality criteria for inclusion. Julienne was very close friends with Antoine Watteau, with whom he had studied for a while at the Académie du Louvre. Between 1717 and 1735 he acquired around forty major works by Watteau, who died young, and also possessed some 450 drawings by the artist, which he had reproduced by the leading engravers of the time. After Julienne’s death in 1766 the collection was bequeathed to the Louvre in Paris. The present engraving reproduces a painting by François de Troy now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes (inventory number 46.1.144). The sensitive portrait documents Julienne’s great fondness for Watteau’s art and shows the collector holding a signed selfportrait by Watteau. Jean-Joseph Baléchou, who studied under Philippe Le Bas and Bernard Lépicié, was admitted to the Paris Academy in 1749 but returned to Avignon in 1753. Worthy of special mention are his portraits, which are distinguished by their admirable psychological characterisation. A very fine, nuanced impression with narrow margins. Minor staining and slightly foxed, occasional traces of old hinges on the verso, otherwise in excellent condition. From the renowned collection of Josef Camesina de Pomal, Vienna (Lugt 429).

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