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 every detail of the sitter's appearance drew the artist's focused attention.
Family tradition identifies the man as Pierre de Buissy (1737-1787), 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 He appears withdrawn and distant, a reserve appropriate to his status, and also likely a product of Duplessis' studio practice.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