Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince
Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince
Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince
Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince
Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince
Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince

FRANCOIS DESMOULINS Also known as BEAUVILLIERS DESMOULINS (died 1730)

Satirical Portrait of “Le Petit Prince"

1723 France

Offered by Thomas Coulborn & Sons

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A watercolour depicting ‘Le Petit Prince’ – a man in a jacket and a tricorn hat. He is a caricature, carrying a bag over his right shoulder which contains a bottle upon which he is resting his hand; and he is holding a chicken in his left hand. The text underneath the drawing attests to this: ‘As tu ton Poulet? As tu ta Bouteille?’. The scene behind shows a park, with a wide tree-lined avenue and a carriage, drawn by a considerable number of horses and followed by a large group of men on horseback. The number of horses suggests that the setting is, in fact, Versailles, and depicts the King leaving the palace gardens as, when he left Versailles, the King’s carriage was accompanied by a large number of horses. Louis XV left Paris and moved back to Versailles on 15th June 1722, and therefore Versailles would have been his residence at the time this watercolour was created.

Produced in 1723, the watercolour was presented to King Louis XV (15th February 1710 – 10th May 1774), who succeeded his great-grandfather, Louis XIV, at the age of 5. He ruled as King of France from 1st September 1715 until his death in 1774. His kingdom was ruled bu Philippe III, Duke of Orleans, who was Regent of France, until 15th February 1723. At that time, as Louis XV had reached maturity, the king’s majority was declared by Parliament and this officially ended the Regency. It is possible that the watercolour depicts a subject watching the King leaving Versailles to attend his Coronation.

Transcription of the text under the drawing: ‘Moy sous le titre de Petit Prince avec les Saveurs journalieres de ma / Cousine l’Infante Reyne partant pour le Sacre de Son Auguste Epoux / je remplis mon geulard apres avoir fait mon personnage & m’être fait demander / par cette Incomparable Princesse As tu ton Poulet? As tu ta Bouteille? & comme / vous m’en voyez, saisy apres l’avoir reçu des Officiers du tortillage, je vais en / Saire part a quelques affamés animaux raisonables de mes amis joignant le quotidien / que j’ay chez le Grand L[text indecipherable] òu je sais les bonneurs de premier home / d’affaires inutiles apres avoir été le Cheval de Barbet & le Crocheteur honoraire de LOUIS 15. / J’ay été dessiné & presenté au Roy par le Sn de Beauviller Chevalier de Saint Louis, Gentilhomme servant du Roy & son / Ingenieur ordinaire de l’Academie Royale des Sciences au mois de Juillet 1723 à Versailles.’

Transcription of the text on the reverse of the drawing: ‘Le portrait du petit Prince de l’autre part, est de la main du Sd Francois Desmoulins Escuier / de Beauvilliers Chd de St Louis Gentilhomme Servant du Roy, et Son Ingenieur Ordinaire / de I’Academie Royale des Sciences, qui sçut plaire a Louis 14, Monseigneur et tous / les Princes de ce temps, et au jour dhuy a Louis 15 par le talent du Dessein de Grotesques, / de Cartes, Campements, Batailles et plans de places attaquées telles que Fontarabie et / St

Sebastien. A Versailles ce 8 Septembre 1723. Le dit Sd de Beauvilliers sátira l’estime de S. A. Rle / Me Doiriere d’Auguste Memoire, a qui il faisait sa Cour par de pareils portraits comme l’Abbé duplais fou de Louis 14 et / du nomme fimonos de la Darentiere surnommé La Grande Barbé ou l’Esclave qui avait finventé le jeu des Chalumeaux / de Roseau dont il divertissait la Cour. Ces deux portraits furent placé dans le Cabinet de cette Auguste Princesse au / de ses Antiques Médailles, a sa mort Louis 15 les a voulu avoir par present de S. A. Rle ?ng le Duc d’Orlean Regent.’

This drawing was created as a presentation study for the King by the King’s cartographer, probably for the King’s amusement. The text is written in old French and is humourous and frivolous. As a result, it is unclear whether the subject really is a cousin of the queen; a favoured court jester being arrogant; or a bastard child of Louis. This text on the reverse indicates that there were two other satirical portraits by the same artist at Versailles in the Cabinet ‘de cette Auguste Princesse’, which held Antique Medals. It goes on to suggest that the King wanted to acquire these on the death of the ‘Auguste Princesse’. Beauvilliers created these caricatures to amuse the members of the Royal Family with these drawings.

François Desmoulins, alias BEAUVILLIERS DESMOULINS, d.1730: François Desmoulins was a military cartographer. He appears in the list of ‘Géographes’ as ‘1699. D. Beauvilliers’ amongst the ‘Membres de l’Académie Royale des Sciences’ (p.461).

The text under the drawing states: ‘J’ay été dessiné & presenté au Roy … au mois de Juillet 1723 à Versailles’, stating that the drawing was presented to the King and therefore, in terms of provenance, belonged to him. The date, July 1723, could refer to the date of the events depicted, to the date the artist put pen to paper, or to the date on which the drawing was presented to the King.
Dimensions
Height 73.75 cm (29.04 inches)
Width 48.50 cm (19.09 inches)
Stock Code
463a
Medium
Watercolour
Signed/Inscribed
Signed, extensively inscribed and dated July 1723
Thomas Coulborn & Sons

Thomas Coulborn & Sons
Vesey Manor
64 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QP
England

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