Lié Louis Périn-Salbreux
Portrait of a Young Man Writing
Oil on canvas (relined). 86.5 x 66 cm.
Signed and dated center right: Perin pinxit 1788. Inscribed upper right: „An:aet: / 32“..
With a handwritten label attached to the reverse of the stretcher with four red seals: "Privat-Eigentum / Charles F. [illegible] / Warschau / Mazowiecka 2".
The man depicted in this fine portrait has yet to be identified, however, an inscription in the upper right corner of the work states him as being 32 years old. The work emphasises the sitter's passion for literature. His shelves house volumes by Montaigne, Fenelon and Rousseau ("Émile ou De l'éducation"), and we see further titles and topics jotted down in an open notebook. The majority of these notes are legible, for example "Mem. de Warens" - the memoires of Françoise-Louise de Warens (1699-1762), which were published two years prior to this painting's creation in 1788. The sitter of the painting may have been an author or scholar himself, and was certainly a lover of literature in the 18th century - an era as learned as it was gallant. Périn-Salbreux used the motif of books and writing in an earlier and slightly smaller portrait of a lady done in 1776, which was sold by Christie's in Paris in 2006.
Périn-Salbreux was not only famous for his large scale portraits, but also for his miniatures. The artist was born in Reims and moved to Paris at age 18 in order to continue his studies. Here, he was taught and supported by Joseph-Marie Vien and Alexandre Roslin, but also had contact with the sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. He remained in the French capital until 1799, before returning to the city of his birth via Lyon. This painting was handed down from his teacher Roslin.
For this artist, cf.: Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard: Les Peintres en miniature, Paris 2008, p. 414-416.