Kimbell Art Museum Exhibition Catalog
June 5 - August 8, 1982

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Catalog Number 10

Art Page 26
Oil on canvas: 36 x 29 inches (91.5 x 73.5 cm.)
Private Collection

Little is known about the life of Etienne Nicolas Landry de Saint Aubin, not even his dates, although in the portrait he appears to be at least sixty years of age. In her catalogue Vigee Le Brun lists the sitter simply as "M. de Landry," and one can surmise that he was not of the aristocracy but rather a bourgeois with visions of grandeur. With the help of the nobiliary particle "de," he probably attached to his own surname of Landry the name of his property at C16on-Saint-Aubin in Normandy. The combination was high-sounding indeed. Other estates over which he held feudal authority were L'Aigle Crestain, La Grange, Fresneuse-la-Ronce, and Le Carmier. Finally we know that the undistinguished maiden name of his wife, Marie Ad6laide, was Lepeu.

One can also imagine that M. Landry was a man of substance. The fact is proclaimed by his handsome suit of lavender satin richly embroidered with flowers and foliage and dramatized by the bold lighting and pose. He was obviously anxious to transmit to future generations the signs of his prosperity and intellectual pursuits. The paper he holds in his hand and the compass on the desk suggest that he was something of a mathematician. The globe perhaps indicates that he was a world traveler or, given its position, a merchant whose commercial interests lay in countries bound by the North Sea. But what precedes belongs to the realm of speculation. This decorative portrait, with its rococo effects and pastel coloring, has a life all its own.

PROVENANCE: Colonel Landry de Saint Aubin; by inheritance to his daughter, Mme Caroline Gheerbrant; to her nephew, Maximilien Gheerbrant, Conseiller de la Cour d'Appel, Douai; Wildenstein, Paris and New York, by 1929; acquired by E. J. Stehli, New York; his sale, New York, Parke Bernet, November 30, 1950, lot 14; Antonville Galleries, New York.

EXHIBITIONS: New York, Wildenstein, French 18th Century Paintings, March-April 1929, no. 7; Birmingham, Alabama, Museum of Art, Images by the Masters, February 1979, no. 29.

REFERENCES: Souvenirs, I, 329; C. Oulmont, Les femmes peintres du dix-huitieme siecle, Paris, 1928, illus. pl. 31; A. M. Frankfurter, "Thirty-five Portraits from American Collections," Art News, XXXIX, No. 33, May 16, 1931, p. 4, illus. p. 51.

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