Lot 191. Marcello Bacciarelli Rome 1731 – 1818 Warsaw. Portrait of the prince Andrzej Poniatowski (1734-1773). Bears a red painted number lower left 63.; signed and dated on the reverse PINXIT BACCIARELLI […] 1778. Oil on canvas, an oval, 67,4 x 53 cm ; 26½ by 20⅞ in. Literature: T. Mankowski, Galerja Stanislawa Augusta, Lvov 1932, no. 63.
Sotheby’s sugeruje, że Marcello Bacciarelli namalował ten obraz Andrzeja Poniatowskiego (1734 – 1773) w roku 1778. Obraz pośmiertny?
Bacciarelli was born in Rome in 1731, and began his training in Battoni’s workshop before being summoned to the Dresden court by the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Augustus III, and then to the court in Vienna by Empress Maria Theresa. When Augustus III died, the artist was summoned by the new king of Poland, Stanislaus II Augustus: he settled in Warsaw in 1765 and became Director of Royal Estates and Buildings, and then Dean of the Fine Arts department at the University, while continuing to train many pupils in his own workshop.
Bacciarelli produced many decorations and historical compositions for the king, but it was at portraiture that he excelled. The most important figures of his age posed for him, including kings, princes and princesses.
On the present painting, the number 63 inscribed in red matches the order number in Stanislaus Augustus’ gallery; the artist also signed the back of the canvas, giving the name and history of the model as well as the date of execution. Works in Stanislaus Augustus’ gallery, dispersed after his abdication in 1795 into museums or private hands, are known to us from various inventories.
Andrzej Poniatowski, portrayed here, was one of the eight children born to Stanislaus and Konstancja Poniatowski, as noted on the back of the canvas. He was also the brother of Stanislaus II Augustus, who appears in a portrait in this sale (see previous lot), and the father of Józef Poniatowski, whose portrait we are also presenting under lot number 207.
Attached by a red and white ribbon around his neck, Andrzej Poniatowski wears the Polish cross of the Order of St Stanislaus, created in 1765 by the king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, in honour of the country’s patron saint. The blue sash around his waist is that of the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish honour, created by Augustus II in the early eighteenth century. Andrzej Poniatowski’s courage in the Seven Years War, when he fought on the side of the Austrian army, resulted in his promotion to Lieutenant General and then Field Marshal in 1771.
The present portrait, dated 1778, emphasises his military experience: the elegance of his apparel is accentuated by skilfully depicted white highlights, while the shimmering silk animates the whole. Although very official in character, the portrait also reveals the model’s personality: his serious and determined gaze underlines the model’s noble qualities.