Dijon 1750 – 1817 Dijon
Watercolor and gouache on paper
7 x 7 cm / 2.8 x 2.8 in

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About the artist:
Claude-Jean-Baptiste Hoin was born in 1750 in Dijon into the family of a successful and renowned surgeon, encyclopedist and prominent researcher Jean-Jacques-Louis Hoin. Good family opportunities allowed the young man not only to receive a versatile education, but also to enter the François Devosge s(1732-1811) school of drawing. Early showing his talent, on the recommendation of his teacher, he moved to Paris, where he entered the workshop of Jean-Baptiste Greuze.
However, life and career in Paris had its own difficulties. Not being a graduate of the Academy, Hoin did not have the opportunity to exhibit at the Salon. Meanwhile, he continued to improve his skills, which was facilitated by his numerous trips around the outskirts of Paris, during which he completed many small landscape sketches, not devoid of grace. In fact, Hoin was one of the first painters who, long before the Barbizonians, began to go to the open air on purpose.
But the artist's vocation was still the portrait genre. He works a lot in the technique of gouache and pastel, which does not go unnoticed: in 1785 he became the court painter of the Count of Provence, the future Louis XVIII. The artist enthusiastically accepts the revolution, remaining, however, always in the circle of moderate revolutionaries. He worked in Paris until 1802, after which he returned to his native Dijon, where he died, surrounded by honor and respect, in 1817.

The identification of unknown persons depicted in male portraits of the 18th and early 19th centuries is one of the most difficult tasks for a portrait researcher. This task is especially difficult when the person depicted does not have a uniform or insignia. This was the case with the portrait of this unknown gentleman.
The solution to this puzzle came about by chance. An almost identical miniature portrait by Jean-Urbain Guérin from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York was discovered. The portrait was represented by Alexandre-Théodore-Victor, comte de Lameth.
The Guérin miniature from the Metropolitan collection was created in the period around 1789-90, when the miniaturist was working on a large series of profile portraits of deputies of the National Assembly. These drawings served as the basis for the engravings by Franz Gabriel Fiessinger (1752–1807). Later, the type of profile picture performed by Guérin and engraved by Fliessinger served as the basis for numerous repetitions. The portrait by Hoin was made at the same time, in 1789-90, during the period of the artist's greatest sympathy for the Republicans (for example, at the same time, Hoin was painting the famous portrait of Mirabeau).
The iconography of Alexandre-Théodore-Victor Lameth, meanwhile, was not limited to the works of Guérin. Already at the beginning of the 1790s, Jean-Baptiste Vérité (1756-1837) released a new engraving portrait (dessiné d'après nature, as indicated in the annotation to the engraving), in which Lameth is already represented in three-quarters (almost full face). This engraving, rather archaic in its manner, was not successful. More successful was an engraving based on a drawing by Pierre-Michel Alix (1762 - 1817), it was repeatedly replicated and, along with a profile portrait based on a drawing by Guerin, became a kind of part of the official iconography of Lameth.
Already at the time of the restoration, in the 1820s, a new portrait type appeared, representing Lameth, this is a lithograph by François Séraphin Delpech (1778-1825), which was repeated many times even after the death of the depicted one.

The French military and political figure, Alexandre Théodore Victor, comte de Lameth (1760-1829), is definitely a bright and interesting personality. Born in 1760 into an old noble family, from a young age he decided to devote himself to the military field. Starting his career at the age of 17 in the Garde du corps du roi, he quickly promoted in service and already in 1782, as a colonel in the army comte de Rochambeau, he took part in the United States War of Independence. Returning to France in 1785, he was appointed colonel of the régiment Royal-Lorraine cavalerie and remained in this rank until 1789.
It is noteworthy that researchers often elude the fact of Lameth's trip to Russia in 1787 as a military specialist. Together with Count de Ségur, the French ambassador in St. Petersburg, he accompanied the Russian Empress Catherine II during her trip to Crimea. At this time, Catherine II actively sought the support of Austria (she was represented by the no less experienced military prince of Ligne) and France in the war with the Ottoman Empire.
Comte de Segur describes the arrival of Lameth as follows "... only two Frenchmen arrived in Kiev, both worthy people: Alexander Lameth and comte Édouard Dillon .... The Empress received Édouard Dillon and especially Alexander Lameth with excellent graciousness. The clever, popular empress loved to win the attention of people, especially those who were worthy of such a victory; she knew that people known by name, merit, feat, talent, writing, or success in the world spread the glory of monarchs who flattered their pride. Once it happened very funny to mention it in conversation with Lameth. They once had a conversation about Lameth's uncle, Marshal de Broglie. Having given justice to the feats and abilities of this famous commander, she said: "Yes, I have always felt sorry for the French that this famous marshal, the glory and adornment of his fatherland, does not have children who would inherit the glory of his name and would be also known in the annals war ". To this Lameth replied: "This remark would be very flattering for the marshal, but, fortunately, it is erroneous. Your Majesty has the wrong information about him; my uncle is just as happy in marriage as in the military field: he has a large family: he is the father of twenty-two children "
A historical anecdote belongs to this time, a dialogue between Lameth and one of the greatest Russian commanders, Alexander Suvorov, it is also quoted by de Ségur "When Suvorov met with Lameth, a man of not too gentle disposition, I had a rather funny conversation with him, which is why I I quote here. "Your homeland?" Suvorov asked abruptly. "France". - " What is your occupation?" - "Soldier". - "Your rank?" - "Colonel". - "Name?" - "Alexander Lameth". - "Okay". Lameth, not entirely satisfied with this little interrogation, in turn turned to the general, looking at him intently: "What nation are you?" - "Must be Russian." - "What is your occupation?" - "Soldier". - "Your rank?" - "General" - "Name?" - "Alexander Suvorov". - "Okay". Both burst out laughing and since then have been very good with each other. "
Returning to France, Lameth was actively involved in political activities: In 1789, Lameth was elected deputy of the Estates General from the nobility of Peronne. From this moment, his active participation in the Revolution begins. During the conflict between the deputies of the third estate and the king, he was among 47 deputies who sided with the representatives of the people, who declared themselves the National Assembly. Meanwhile, according to his convictions, Lameth remained a liberal monarchist, which largely explains his future fate. Leaving the legislative field, Lameth returned to the army under the command of Marshal Luckner for the war in Austria. Unsuccessfully trying to inspire his troops to remain loyal to the monarchy, he surrenders to the Austrians who arrest him. He remains in prison until 1797, then returns to France and devotes himself to administrative work, to which he remains faithful until the end of his life in 1829.
A man whose youth was filled with bright and great events, by the will of fate, ended up in prison in an enemy country, when the Great Terror was raging in his homeland. And ironically, maybe this is what saved the life of a person, whose experience and knowledge were in demand in France much later, after the turbulent eras of the Revolution and Empire.

Bratislava, 2021

Base: Paper

Epoque: XVIII century

Genre: Portrait

School: French

Technic: Watercolor

Technic: Gouache

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