Portrait of a Man

Hyacinthe Rigaudabout 1710–1720

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

His subjects' rank and social position interested Hyacinthe Rigaud more than each individual's character. In this drawing of a wealthy nobleman, Rigaud concentrated on the luxurious sheen of his satin coat, the delicate lace frothing around his throat and cuffs, and the damask lining of his cloak, which surrounds him like a cloud. Subtle highlights even pick up the gleam of the brass studs decorating the chair underneath his left hand. Rigaud achieved these effects by applying a layer of white gouache on top of the black chalk and gray wash, creating a gleaming, three-dimensional effect. In contrast, the man's face and luxuriant flowing wig appear flat and static.

Textiles, used for either home furnishings or dress, were important indicators of an individual's social rank in the 1700s. In an age when only the wealthiest members of society could afford such expensive and fragile fabrics as silk, satin, and damask, both quality and quantity mattered. Only wealthy individuals could wear lace in the early 1700s, and fashion strictly controlled the style and the amount that was shown. The abundance of fabulous cloth in this drawing is therefore a silent indicator of this man's wealth and importance.


  • Title: Portrait of a Man
  • Creator: Hyacinthe Rigaud
  • Date Created: about 1710–1720
  • Physical Dimensions: 35.6 × 27.9 cm (14 × 11 in.)
  • Type: Drawing
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Black chalk, brush with gray wash, heightened with white and gray gouache, on blue-gray paper
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 86.GB.612
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Hyacinthe Rigaud (French, 1659 - 1743)
  • Classification: Drawings (Visual Works)

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