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André-François Miot, envoy of the French Republic to the Grand Duke of Tuscany

Louis Gauffier1796

National Gallery of Victoria

National Gallery of Victoria

Following the Terror in France (1793–4) stoic scenes from Greek and Roman history palled and gave way to more intimate depictions of private life, as in this portrait of a prominent French official. In November 1794 the moderate Thermidorean government appointed André-François Miot as representative of the new French Republic in Florence, which had been declared neutral by the Austrian Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand III. Key to Miot’s success was finding acceptance in this society where revolutionaries were widely perceived as savages. Miot later described in his memoirs his determination to undo this stereotype through personal example. Well-read and multilingual, he sought out Florence’s artistic and literary circles, where he met his countryman, Louis Gauffier, a well-known portrait and landscape painter.

In accordance with Miot’s aims, Gauffier has painted Miot (far right) wearing a combination of contemporary and Antique costume, in the red, white and blue of the French tricolore. A revolutionary cockade adorns his hat. A rhythm of caressing touches link Miot to his children, wife, and brother, who are fashionably dressed in the Directory style and disposed across the composition in the manner of an Antique frieze, before a view of Florence’s skyline. In 1796 Miot earned renown as the broker of a truce between warring France and the Papal States. Here Gauffier has portrayed Miot as a defender of family harmony, with a proper appreciation of the beauties of his host city.

Text by Sophie Matthiesson © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

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Details

  • Title: André-François Miot, envoy of the French Republic to the Grand Duke of Tuscany
  • Creator: Louis Gauffier
  • Date Created: 1796
  • Location Created: Florence, Italy
  • Provenance: Collection of Comte André-François Miot de Melito (1762–1841), Tuscany, Italy, until 1841; by descent to Comtesse Rosalie d’Fleischmann (1792–1866), née Miot de Melito, until 1866; by descent to Colonel Comte Charles Astorg, cousin and heir of Rosalie d’Fleischmann, until 1879; (probably) Geneviève Astorg (née de l’Estrade), wife of the preceding, at the Château des Moulins Neufs, Lavau in the Yonne, France; and thence by descent remaining with the Miot de Melito descendants, until 2010; with Matthiessen Fine Art Ltd (dealer), London, 2010; from where acquired for the National Gallery of Victoria, 2010.
  • Place Part Of: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w880 x h687 cm (Image)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased with funds donated by an anonymous donor, 2010, © National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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