Portrait of Louis de Jean

Mercier, Philip

This fine portrait of the elegant Major Louis de Jean, of His Majesty’s First Troop of Horseguards, was painted by Philip (Philippe) Mercier, an artist of French extraction who had settled in England. Both the sitter and the artist were Huguenots (French Protestants) whose families had left France in the wake of Louis IV’s religious laws.

Major Louis de Jean, of His Majesty’s First Troop of Horse Guards, was a successful career soldier who became a prominent member of the expatriate French community in London. He later rose to the rank of Major-General, married a Swiss heiress and settled in Dublin.

Philip Mercier was born in Berlin, where he trained at the academy of painting.  He travelled in Italy and France and visited Hanover. Whilst in Hanover, Mercier painted a portrait of Frederick Prince of Wales and was appointed page of the bedchamber to the prince.  Mercier arrived in England in about 1716, where he introduced a French taste based on thestyles of Watteau and Chardin.

His work became  popular  and in 1727 he was appointed painter  to the Prince and Princess of Wales. He fell out of favour at court and moved to York for twelve years where he became sought-after for portraits by the leading families.  The Irwins of Temple Newsam were painted by him and there are four large full-length portraits still in the collection.  This picture is recorded at Temple Newsam in 1862 but may have been acquired much earlier, possibly at the sale of Mercier’s studio when he departed from York in 1751.  It left the house in 1922 and descended in the family of the late Lord Halifax until sold in April 2014.    

The picture was bought with the aid of a grant from the Leeds Art Fund  (Christopher Gilbert Fund) and now hangs in Lady William Gordon’s Room at Temple Newsam. 

Oil on canvas

Philip Mercier

Other pieces in our collection

Location Piece

Morris, Robert

1973, Sculpture relief in lead and aluminium, 53.5 x 53.5

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