Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo - A Portrait of the Philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius
Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo
A Portrait of the Philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius
Gouache on paper, mounted on canvas. 61 x 50 cm.
Framed under glass..
King Frederick II enjoyed close personal or written contact with some of the most significant intellectuals of his time: Diderot, Montesquieu, d´Alembert, Voltaire as well as Enlightenment philosophers such as Claude Adrien Helvétius (the latinised version of "Swiss", 1715 Paris - 1771 Versailles). The French painter Charles Amedée van Loo, who resided in Berlin from 1748 to 1758, was among the numerous artists at his court. The painter returned to Berlin in 1763 following the Seven Years' War in which Prussia and France were enemies, and he remained in royal service until 1769. Van Loo even received a yearly pension from the King after returning to Paris. This unsigned pastel drawing can be attributed to van Loo via an engraving by A. de Saint Aubin in which both the artist and the patron - Frederick II - are mentioned (Nancy Mitford: Frederick the Great, 1973, p. 250). Helvétius travelled to Prussia at the French King's behest in 1764 and was received with high honours. Van Loo was also in Berlin at this time, and thus we can assume that this charming portrait was made in this year.
Dr. Ludwig Meyer, Munich 20.3.2007
Private collection, North Germany.