A family portrait

8 January 2010

The Comte de Bourcet and his family by Charles-Paul Landon, 1791.

At first glance this is a charming family group but then when you look more closely, it becomes much more complicated. The Comte was the Officier de Maison for the household of the Dauphin and here, he makes no secret of his royalist loyalties as busts of the imprisoned Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are prominently displayed beside the family along with a white lily, the symbol of the monarchy, which presumably represents the Dauphin. The dead specimen on the table represents his dead brother, the ‘first’ Dauphin who died in 1789 and whose portrait hangs prominently on the wall above the family.

There are signs of tragedy in the Comte’s family as well. By the table, there rests a portrait of a man, who is possibly a brother of the Comte while on the wall, an empty ominous frame is waiting for someone.

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