Olivier Journu (1724–1764)

Artist: Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (French, Paris 1715–1783 Amsterdam)

Date: 1756

Medium: Pastel on blue-gray laid paper, laid down on canvas

Dimensions: 22 7/8 x 18 1/2 in. (58.1 x 47 cm)

Classification: Pastels & Oil Sketches on Paper

Credit Line: Wrightsman Fund, 2003

Accession Number: 2003.26


Perronneau, trained as a painter, pastelist, and engraver, entered the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1753. By that time he was already admired as a colorist and had exhibited widely, but he seems to have discovered that he could not compete with Maurice Quentin de La Tour for aristocratic or royal clients and for the most part sought work outside the capital. He was a regular visitor to Bordeaux, the home of the wealthy and cultivated Journu family, who gave him several commissions for oils and pastels. The first was for this portrait of Bernard, called Olivier, who was born in 1724. His square jaw and dark brows are typical of the Journus; his brilliant turquoise eyes are unusual. There is a slight sway to his pose. Although his expression is opaque, he appears to be acutely aware of the impression he makes.