Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) and Pierre-Auguste Pichon (1805-1900)

Ferdinand-Philippe Duke of Orleans - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Ferdinand-Philippe Duke of Orléans
Oil on canvas
H. 155 cm; L. 220 cm
Private collection, on hold at the Château de Fontainebleau
Gallery of Splendours

Born in Palermo in 1810, Ferdinand-Philippe quickly won renown as the most brilliant and charismatic of Louis-Philippe’s children. He was appointed to colonel of the 1st Hussards Regiment at the age of fourteen. After the July Revolution, he became the darling of Parisian society. Fashionable prince, art connoisseur and patron to the Romantics, he was also a brave nobleman – he led the Antwerp Campaign then the Pacification of Algeria. He married Princess Hélène de Mecklembourg-Schwerin at Fontainebleau in 1837. It was a love match that produced sons Louis-Philippe, Count of Paris and Robert, Duke of Chartres. Entertaining the best of Parisian society at their apartment in the Tuileries’ Pavillon de Marsan, the royal couple were close with the Romantics, especially Victor Hugo. On July 13th 1842, however, a car accident on the way from Paris to Neuilly cost the young prince his life. This accident happened barely two months after the prince had his portrait made by Ingres in 1840.

He posed for the artist in his apartment at the Tuileries in front of some famous decor – the crimson hanging velvet embellished in gold and silver that was delivered to Versailles for the alcove in Louis XIV’s bedroom. The young prince is presented in the uniform of the General of Chasseurs. He has a stately demeanour – one hand is holding a bicorn hat and gloves, the other is resting on the handle of his sword. He has a noble look of a daydreamer.

In this portrait, Ingres demonstrates his ability to render the symbolic nature of objects; the hand is holding the glove firmly and he was one of the first to wear the tricolor badge. The painting immediately gained wide success – and only increased with the Prince’s tragic death – when it was presented at the painter’s studio in the spring of 1842. This copy was ordered from Ingres in 1846 by the Duchess of Orléans to be given to Baron de Chabaud Latour, a close adviser to the royal prince.

2018-2019, Château de Fontainebleau, Louis-Philippe à Fontainebleau. The King and History.

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