Louis XV frame on this painting may very well be the original, applied
to it either by the artist or the client. It is a magnificent example
of the full-blown Rococo style: opulent, bold and plastic, with massive
sculptural cartouches in the corners and centres, and a fluent combination
of rocaille, foliate and Classical ornament.
of such a setting is an index of the importance of the sitter, and his
ability to commission the skills, not only of one of the leading French
artists of the mid-18th century, but of the numbers of craftsmen needed
to produce this type of frame. The wooden carcase would be made by a
joiner, and the design would then be carved into it - in this case,
probably by a maître sculpteur. It would be covered with
thin layers of gesso, and then the fine detail of the ornament would
be recut by the répareur. Finally, it would be gilded,
and various areas left matt or burnished.
spectator moved before the finished work, different ornamental facets
would capture the light, throwing it onto the painting and providing
a sense of shimmering movement and life. This sense of vitality is heightened
by the correspondence between the style of frame and painting - the
three-dimensionality of the figure in its slightly contrapuntal pose
is echoed by the strong lines of the frame design and depth and weight
of the carving, whilst the fluid curves of his costume are repeated
in the swept rails and voluted cartouches. Such correspondence is found
in all successful matings of frame and picture, where each enhances
the other, and the spectator is hardly aware of them as separate objects.