Monsieur de Buissy, c. 1780
Joseph Siffred Duplessis
oil on canvas
116 x 88.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42528)
Photo © NGC
Duplessis captured the spirit of the last decades of the Ancien Régime, brilliantly and frankly recording the likenesses of his contemporaries. His work is marked by a strange sense of heightened reality, as if the every detail of the sitter's appearance drew the artist's focused attention.
Family tradition identifies the man as Pierre de Buissy (1737 or 1743 -1787), a noble from Picardy. He appears withdrawn and distant, a reserve appropriate to his status, and also likely a product of Duplessis' studio practice. De Buissy would have offered the painter only a few sittings; Duplessis would then have dressed a mannequin in de Buissy's clothes for the long, painstaking sessions which followed. The frame, likely original, would have been chosen by the artist.
Frame: running moulding with carved ornament, gilded. France, original