This is a painting from near 1850 that depicts a (famous) French man, possibly noble, in a park, maybe Paris.

Is he a Minister? King? Military? Whoever he might be, I consider he is important, since the people around bow before him (the woman).

Can anyone tell me who this man is?

19th Painting

19th painting whole

A closer look at the gentleman and the military guard behind enter image description here

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    Knowing the name and artist of the painting, and everything else you might know or suppose about it, would help considerably. Also why you suppose the man to be French rather than British. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 14:04
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    Then at least tell us where the painting is on public display, so that we can research it. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 14:09
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    Where did you get the image from?
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 15:06
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    What are the dates of the presumed artist's visit to Paris? Might he have visited any other European capitals, including the minor German states, during the same time period? Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 19:19
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    @LauraAS. It could however be a copy by GH of some earlier painting by a local French painter. You'll agree that this is very far from the neoclassical style and subjects that GH will be later known for (more like David or Ingres). You probably know that young artists (GH would be in his mid 20s at the time) would improve their technique by copying other painters (in the Louvres for instance). So that's the only way I can think of that would reconcile the signature and the subjects. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:38

8 Answers 8


The reason there are errors you can't reconcile is that this is not painted from life. This is a lady of 1850. women's costume, 1850 After this the hoop skirts only get bigger.

This is a gentleman of 1855, who wears trousers and a frock coat. man in frock coat, 1855

The people you see here are from decades earlier. The gentlemen wear swallowtail coats with breeches and stockings. The women wear the Empire waist, soft white gowns, and spencer jackets, with long shawls off their elbows, not big triangular ones covering the upper body.

In short, your Spanish painter was painting a scene out of the Napoleonic period, or shortly thereafter. The supposed queen wears the high waist, but her hair is that of before the Revolution, afro curls powdered over, while the "king" wears a powdered wig that would suit even the 1770s.

This means, depending on how good the painter's research was, he could have stitched together reference materials that were not compatible. This could explain the sash being the wrong side, besides the anachronisms. The women are mostly dressed 1810, with the queen wearing what is not really a walking dress, and lacking a bonnet. I would say she and the king are copied out of more official portraits.

At this point, you can only guess at what he was attempting to portray with his linseed oil time machine.Locating the structure in the back (I believe it is a carousel) will tell you where, though the guardsmen tend to indicate France -- but maybe not Paris. This could be a fantasy of Louis XVIII going for a stroll -- it needn't connect well with reality.

My three cents' worth, from studying the era 1803-1816, and training in portraiture, is that the king lacks the jaw structure of either George or William IV. He isn't Hanoverian.

  • This is also what my mind was leading towards - but I didn't quite know how to quantify the reasons. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 19:35

This is a picture of King Louis XVIII of France. The coat he is wearing closely resembles that of the Gendarmes de la Maison militaire du Roi during the First Restoration (red cloth, horizontal lace and black velvet on the chest, etc.) As for why the lace and epaulets appear silver rather than the regulation gold, this is perhaps an affectation of the king, or an artist's error.

enter image description here

To those hung up on the red, recall that since the time of Louis XIV the Maison militaire du Roi had two broad groupings, the Maison bleue and the Maison rouge, based on the color of their coats. In the latter, during both the First Restoration and the Ancien Régime, we find the Mousquetaires, the Chevau-légers, and the aforementioned Gendarmes.

The military figures (in bicornes with plumes) in attendance behind Louis XVIII are officers of the Gardes du corps du Roi, a Maison bleue unit of the Maison militaire du Roi. The six (reduced to four at the start of the Second Restoration) companies of this unit were each identified by a distinctive color. Here this identifying color should be noticeable at the base of the plume, in the shoulder straps, and worked in to their waist sashes, but it seems unclear -- perhaps green, which would identify the company as that of the Duke du Gramont.

enter image description here

As for precisely dating the scene between 1815-1824, this would hinge on whether or not Louis's coat is indeed intended to be that of the Gendarmes, who along with several other Maison units were dissolved at the start of the Second Restoration. It would be odd for the king to wear the uniform of a disbanded unit, as this was a disagreeable act to many in the French nobility since they lost position and prestige.

  • Nice work. I added a couple of links to enhance your research. Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 16:20
  • Thank you Pieter. The photo is of the Chevau-légers, but it gives an idea of the period style (esp. the red). And note that the Titeux plate shows the Gardes du corps in full dress coat, and the painting in question the more casual "walking out dress" version (also with bicornes not helmets). Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 16:31

A more likely possibility than General Colbert is King William IV with his (much younger) wife Adelaide. They married in July 1818. Even after his ascension in 1830 William was known to walk around London and Brighton unaccompanied by guards , as here.

However the issue of the sash being worn on the wrong shoulder occurs again, and whether he was in the habit of making these walks in military dress I cannot determine.

Update: It is worth noting that the facial features as painted much more closely resemble William IV than General Colbert, who appears to have retained his slim facial features until his death.

In the British Army of this time (early to mid-nineteenth century) the red sash was simply an emblem of rank, with sergeants wearing it over one shoulder and officers over the other. However the references I have found to "the knot" placement seem to be opposite to how William IV is wearing it in his official portrait here (as I presume the monarch's rank is not sergeant).

enter image description here

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    That's what I thought. General Colbert in his military dress does not wear the Napoleonic hat, the triconio, as depicted. However, as possible as William IV might seem, I think he died earlier than the visit of the possible author to Paris, considering that it was painted during his ages there. Also, he's indeed accompanied by his guards, in the whole painting is, but what i posted is a cut image of the whole, since I'm was only interested in knowing who he is. I'll upload the whole one
    – Laura AS
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 15:34
  • Not a french guy. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:12
  • [I'll repeat the same commentary I've asked to another guy here.] I'm curious. What makes you so confident believing he might be a King (!!!) and British? Because all I know of the author is that he was in France for a certain period. So, how come he could possibly paint this George III "in situ" or not (I mean, as a copy)? What were the odds of this (poor, maybe ?) Spanish author to paint this and him?
    – Laura AS
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:31
  • @LauraAS: As Conrad Turner has pointed out, the uniform looks distinctly British. The facial features resemble William IV fairly well and more closely (to me) than George III. Also it is certainly customary to bow when in the royalty's presence, when- and where-ever that might occur, but I recall no such tradition for non-royal ranks in the nineteenth and late eighteenth centuries. Further, to my eye at least the woman appears significantly younger than the man, which agrees with the facts for King William IV and Adelaide. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:36
  • and the guards in the back seem as well British? Because at least, they appear not to be of the same range as the elderly man. Even their uniforms are quite different.
    – Laura AS
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 16:40

Visually I think the Louis XVIII hypothesis is good, given the facial and corpulence high similarity, but also his spouse high similarity:

enter image description here enter image description here

Below, the Queen Marie Josephine de Savoie(the facial resemblance of his spouse):

enter image description here

However, the comment below is stating (contrarilyy to one of the other answers depicting the red uniform as a French one) that the original uniform is British: In which case that would be a visual resemblance only.

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    Very unlikely IMO. The hair is different and all the piece of clothing point to a period between between 1800 and 1820. And this is a British uniform. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:18

The only French unit I am aware of that wore red uniforms was the Red Lancers, Second Regiment of Light Horse Lancers of the Imperial Guard. The uniform might be that of a Red Lancers officer, but the painting doesn't give enough detail to be sure of much besides the colour.

The red sash and impression of a distinction on the left breast might be that of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour as shown here, except that the sash is being worn incorrectly; while the sash of a Red Lancer is worn on the left shoulder that of the Legion of Honour Grand Cross is worn on the right shoulder. Military officers never get this wrong, but painters might.

The most distinguished member of the Red Lancers in the decades following Waterloo was Pierre David de Colbert-Chabanais, who commanded the regiment from their creation in 1811 through the Russian campaign and into 1813, until promoted General de Brigade and then General de Division. After serving as Inspector General of Cavalry from 1826, he was made a peer of France in 1838, Grand Cross of Legion of Honour in 1839, and lived until 1853. This might be the gentleman in your painting, though portraits of General Colbert never show him wearing the uniform of a Red Lancer, despite his apparent fondness for the uniform on the battlefield, [Update] and suggest that he retained his slim facial features until his death.

  • I wouldn't go on the color of the jacket of the aristocrat for determining the country. The man's jacket could be red just because he likes the color. But I agree that it shows some resemblance to a British uniform. Did George III ever visit France?
    – jjack
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 9:14

The two officers behind the man in red look like they are wearing French Gendarmerie uniforms. Also, are those mountains in the back? I'm not sure the guy is English, despite his red jacket. The soldier in the far back wears a heat with a red hackle. The French Garde Republicaine wears similar hats with red hackles.


  • Quite interesting but not an answer.
    – o0'.
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 21:00
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    Should've put it in a comment, but I forgot and then I couldn't delete it any more.
    – jjack
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 21:05

I think it is almost certainly one of the restored Bourbon monarchs, either Louis XVIII, Charles X, or Louis Phillippe. If the timing is correct then it would probably have to be Louis Philippe. By dress and appearance it looks much more like Louis XVIII of France.

The emblems he wears are not fully recognizable, but appear to possibly be the Order of the Holy Ghost with the Toison D'or, the Order of the Golden Fleece, suspended directly below it. If correct, this would definitely point towards a king, particularly Louis XVIII.

(Voters notice that I was the first one to identify him as Louis XVIII.)

  • The uniforms of the soldiers nearby indicate that he's French, despite his red jacket.
    – jjack
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 20:33
  • @jjack Uh, right. All of my suggestions are French men. What is your point? Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 20:43
  • I mean I agree.
    – jjack
    Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 20:45
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    @TylerDurden The point is that several of the other answers assert quite confidently that the person in question is English. You did read the other answers before posting, right? Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 11:09
  • Except that none of the French kings you name have this face. Not even Louis XVIII - and surely not Louis Philippe of Charles X. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 20:03

1/ About the spouse of Louis XVIII : she died (in England, 1810) some years before her husband turned a French monarch !

2/ This French king was very close to his niece-in-law and niece, the daughter of Marie-Antoinette: Marie-Thérèse, duchesse d'Angoulème, aged 35 years when the french Bourbon monarchy was restored...

3/ the hats of the attendants are mainly "bicornes" with "plumet blanc" (bicorn with white plume) more an English "fashion" in regimental wearing, I guess...

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