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François-Xavier Fabre

Portrait of a Young Man Wearing a Red Cape and Large Hat


François-Xavier Fabre
Montpellier 1766 – Montpellier 1837


Portrait of a Young Man Wearing a Red Cape and Large Hat


About 1795-1800


Oil on canvas


91.7 x 71 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest and J. Aldéric Raymond Bequest, inv. 2001.35


Western Art

A pupil of the famous neoclassical painter David, Fabre was a royalist and did not share the revolutionary opinions of his studio colleagues. On moving to Florence, he struck a friendship with the Countess of Albany and her companion, the poet Alfieri, which brought him a considerable clientele who came to Italy as part of the Grand Tour. Although his ambition was to be a history painter, circumstances decreed otherwise, and he became a portraitist with numerous successful portraits like this one, which represent a transient foreigner, judging by the wide-brimmed travelling hat. Fabre, who was of a reflective turn of mind, recorded every detail including blemishes. His aim was to paint a “flattering likeness”, hence a subtle idealization of the sitter. The youth’s rosy cheeks, bright eyes, silky curls and half-open lips give him a sweet, dreamy look. The elegant treatment of costume and accessories is as complimentary, as evidenced in the striking contrast between the lemon-yellow waistcoat and the scarlet cape, and the dim reflections in the gilt buttons of the coat.

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