Baron de Besenval was commander-in-chief of France's Swiss Guards at the outset of the French Revolution (during which he was briefly imprisoned). The work is a fine example of the draughtsmanship and harmonious colour for which the artist Danloux was renowned. Also a well-known art collector, this portrait shows Besanval, having retired from military service, surrounded by his paintings and a selection of Rococo objects (by then rather unfashionable). The sitter's refined taste is matched by Danloux's technique and attention to detail. The painting of different fabrics and materials is done with consummate skill. Identifiable among the pictures shown on the wall behind Besenval are works by the Dutch painters Poelenburg, Van de Velde, Teniers, Pynacker and Cuyp. This portrait was painted when the sitter's world had been turned upside down, but nothing of this is betrayed by his relaxed pose and genial smile.
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