Portrait of the Painter Sébastien Bourdon, Hyacinthe Rigaud
Hyacinthe Rigaud
Portrait of the Painter Sébastien Bourdon
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Hyacinthe Rigaud

Portrait of the Painter Sébastien Bourdon, ca. 1730 – 1733

361 x 249 mm
Physical Description
Black and white chalk on blue paper
Inventory Number
Object Number
1067 Z
Can be presented in the study room of the Graphische Sammlung (special opening hours)


About the Work

Hyacinthe Rigaud's portrait drawing of the painter Sébastien Bourdon (1616-1671) is a brilliant example of early eighteenth-century French portrait art. During the late seventeenth century Rigaud had risen to become the leading portraitist of the French court and aristocratic society with a painting style which combined an elegant appearance with sensuous colouristic effects. His famous state portrait of Louis XIV (today in the Louvre in Paris) set the standard against which the other courts of absolutist monarchs measured themselves. Although highly esteemed, relatively few of Rigaud's portrait drawings have survived - making the group of four excellent sheets owned by the Städel Museum all the more important. They were formerly part of the collection of Johann Friedrich Städel and document his interest both in eighteenth-century French drawings and in portraits. The outstanding work in this group is this portrait of the artist. Bourdon, who had died in 1671, was one of the founding members of the Académie Française and also its rector for a while.

Rigaud portrayed him after an oil painting that he personally owned and presented to the Académie in 1735. The drawing, executed exclusively in black and white chalk on blue paper, shows the subject through a picturesque stone window frame. Bourdon seems to be about to turn his attention to the easel discernible in the background, having turned round briefly to look at the viewer. The voluminous drapery enveloping him creates an inward movement which draws the viewer's gaze into the picture. The painter's tools - palette, paintbrush, portfolio, book and sheets of paper - are arranged on a stone balustrade in front of the window. Rigaud's chalk technique differentiates skilfully between the textures of the thick dark hair, the velvet jacket, the silky sheen of the drapery and the stone frame. In spite of this precision the drawing as a whole looks masterful and generous. In 1733, the copper engraver Laurent Cars (1699-1771) created an engraving of this work, a brilliant masterpiece with which he was accepted into the Académie. Rigaud's drawing must have been completed only a short while previously. Whether he was already thinking of having the drawing made into a print when he executed it is not certain. The multiple references to the Académie nonetheless suggest that this was the case.

About the Acquisition

In March 1815, the Frankfurt businessman and banker Johann Friedrich Städel bequeathed his entire fortune and art collection to a foundation which was to be named after him: the 'Städelsches Kunstinstitut'. However, he also dedicated the foundation to the citizens of Frankfurt immaterially, wishing it to be an "adornment and of practical use" to Frankfurt's citizenry. He was thus the first ordinary citizen in the German-speaking region to found a public art museum: the present-day Städel Museum. When he died, his collection comprised 476 paintings, some 4,600 drawings, almost 10,000 printed graphics and valuable books.

Work Data

Basic Information

Portrait of the Painter Sébastien Bourdon
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Black and white chalk on blue paper
Geographic Reference
Production Reason
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Verso signiert unten mittig: H. Rigaud
Captions Added Later
Verso unten links Stempel des Städelschen Kunstinstituts, Frankfurt am Main (Lugt 2356), mit zugehöriger Inventarnummer
  • Nicht geprüft

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
Public Domain

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Persons Shown
Associated Persons and Institutions


  • 48C5153 brushes ~ implements of painter
  • 48C5152 palette
  • 41AA337 view through a window - AA - feigned window

Research and Discussion


Object History
Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766), Paris
Nachlass Jullienne, 1766
Verst. durch Pierre Rémy, , Paris, 30. März 1767
Charles Léoffroy de Saint-Yves (1717–1804), Paris
Nachlass de Saint-Yves, 1804
Verst. durch Delalande, Paris, 2. Mai 1805
Johann Friedrich Städel (1728–1816), Frankfurt am Main
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Sitftung 1816.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

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