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François de Troy

Presumed Portrait of Madame de Franqueville and Her Children


François de Troy
Toulouse 1645 – Paris 1730


Presumed Portrait of Madame de Franqueville and Her Children




Oil on canvas


138.5 x 163.4 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein, inv. 1982.21


Western Art

Born in Toulouse, De Troy established his career in Paris as a portraitist. He received major royal commissions, and also enjoyed great popularity with the bourgeoisie and clergy. The somewhat less formal and more naturalistic character of his works in comparison with those of his rivals probably contributed to this appeal. De Troy was influential in promoting the family portrait, as brilliantly exemplified in this monumental painting signed and dated 1712. The artist preferred setting his subjects in domestic interiors, though of certain magnificence. The identity of the family remains unconfirmed. According to a later inscription on the frame, the figures at the centre are the Marchioness of Franqueville and the young marquis; the young lady seated on the cushion and looking up from plaiting a garland of flowers is the Countess of Lys; and the woman standing behind her is her elder sister, the future Madame de La Baume. The oval portrait visible through the drawn drapes in the adjacent room at the left of the painting would likely be that of the deceased father of the family, Jacques. There is no independent confirmation of these identifications, however, and a different family portrait at Douai, also said to be of the Franquevilles, painted in 1711, features a living father. Both paintings include more children than recorded of that family, and Jacques died in 1723.

A very interesting detail, easily missed by the modern viewer, is that the small servant boy wearing a silver slave collar around his neck that would also have had a silver lock. Easily misinterpreted as part of his rich costume, such restraints for enslaved people were typically made by the silversmiths who also made silver locks and dog collars for the nobility and upper bourgeoisie. These enslaved people were ordered up by the wealthy from slave traders – based on gender, age, looks, disposition – and valued as much as accessories for fashion as for the work they performed.

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