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Corneille de Lyon

Portrait of Charles de La Rochefoucauld, Count of Randan

Panel: 15,8 x 11,3 cm

introduction

Corneille de Lyon’s skill at capturing his model with an astonishing realism made him one of the favourite artists of the court of France in the 16th century. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that a man of status such as Charles de La Rochefoucauld, Count of Randan (1523-1562), is among his most famous portraits.

Charles de La Rochefoucauld took part in the defence of Metz in 1552, while the town was besieged by the armies of Charles V, and vanquished the lieutenant of the emperor’s cavalry. This event announced the beginning of a successful military career for which he received the prestigious Order of Saint Michael, among others. He was then appointed colonel of the infantry, replacing François de Coligny who had publicly adopted the Protestant reformed religion. He suffered a head injury during the siege of Bourges in 1562 and died of a wound that he received during the siege of Rouen, on 4th November 1562.

This admirable portrait has many similarities with the famous painting of the count kept at the Louvre : However, Charles de La Rochefoucauld is not portrayed here with a plumed beret and his doublet is buttoned differently. As usual, the artist demonstrates finesse and a sense of detail both in the composition of the face and in that of the clothing, which is carefully described here. The painter accentuates all the subtleties of the count’s doublet, precisely emphasising each button and every variation in the garment’s folds. The cream colour of the outfit adds a touch of luminosity to the painting, creating a balance with the face’s pale complexion. The black coat covering the count’s shoulders controls the outline of the silhouette while highlighting the model's elegance.

According to the catalogue of Anne Dubois de Groër, the painting in the Louvre is dated 1550-1555. If we consider that this picture was painted during the same era, Charles de La Rochefoucauld, then in his thirties, is depicted at the moment of his first military successes. Once again, Corneille de Lyon succeeds in giving the portrait a spirit which he achieves by revealing all the self-confidence and serenity exuding from the gaze of a man on the road to success.

Provenance :
Private collection.