Portrait of Antoine-Georges-Francois de Chabaud-Latour and his Family
Jacques-Luc Barbier-Walbonne, French, Portrait of Antoine-Georges-Francois de Chabaud-Latour and his Family, 1806, Oil on canvas; 221 x 174 cm (87 x 68 1/2 inches) sight, Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2003.105
This handsome portrait was subtitled “filial piety” when it was exhibited at the 1806 Paris Salon. Set in the gentle landscape of the département of Gard, in the south of France, it depicts Antoine-Georges-François de Chabaud-La Tour who is seated on a marble bench with his daughter Rosina perched on one knee and his son James-Hippolyte posed on the other. His wife, Juliette Verdier de la Coste, stands at their side holding her infant son François-Ernest-Henri to her breast. Their attention is directed to a herm bearing a bust of the children’s grandfather, Antoine Chabaud, a distinguished military man who died in 1791. His epitaph declares: “he lived and died without reproach” (Il Vécut Il Mourût / Sans Reproche).
Both the painter and his sitter were born in 1769 in Nîmes and became partisans of the French Revolution. After entering Jacques-Louis David’s studio in Paris, Barbier took leave to pursue a military career. He served as a lieutenant in the French army’s Fifth Hussar Regiment, and in 1794 he fulfilled an assignment to plunder the art treasures of Belgium, resulting in the transfer of works of Peter-Paul Rubens and others to the national collections of France. He later resumed his artistic career and eventually won commissions for military portraits that graced Emperor Napoléon I’s Salle des Maréchaux in the Tuileries Palace. Although he lived until the age of ninety, only a small number of surviving paintings represent this highly skilled neo-classical figure painter.