Jean Charles Garnier d'Isle (1697–1755)

Artist: Maurice Quentin de La Tour (French, Saint-Quentin 1704–1788 Saint-Quentin)

Date: ca. 1750

Medium: Pastel and gouache on blue paper, laid down on canvas

Dimensions: 25 3/8 x 21 1/4 in. (64.5 x 54 cm)

Classification: Pastels & Oil Sketches on Paper

Credit Line: Purchase, Walter and Leonore Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.439


Garnier d’Isle (1697–1755) was an architect and a garden designer whose rise to influence coincided with the ascendency of Madame de Pompadour as Louis XV’s mistress, and he is associated with the remodeling of several of her properties, including Bellevue. In 1748 he became the comptroller of the Luxembourg and Tuileries palaces. He commissioned from La Tour a portrait that was exhibited at the 1751 Salon. Two other portraits of Garnier d’Isle by La Tour survive: one, the same size as this work, shows him in a gray moiré silk coat (Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.), and the other is a smaller head-and-shoulders view in which he also wears gray (Musée Antoine Lécuyer, Saint-Quentin). Here the artist’s impeccable handling of costume details pales by comparison with the fleeting and perhaps self-satisfied smile of the sitter.