Portrait du duc de Richelieu

Louis-François Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1696-1788)
Around 1745. Studio of Jean-Marc Nattier. Oil on canvas. Inv.: 2008.12.1

This anonymous portrait of the Duc de Richelieu is similar to one signed by Jean-Marc Nattier, today preserved in London. It represents one of the most important princes of the 18th century, who appears in the foreground in armour before a battlefield, which is assumed to be that of Fontenoy.

Louis-François Armand de Vignerot du Plessis, duc de Fronsac and later duc de Richelieu, was born in Paris in 1696 and was a colourful character who made his presence felt in the town of Bordeaux. Appointed as Governor of Guyenne in 1755, he remained in Bordeaux until his death in 1788.

Great-nephew of Cardinal Richelieu and godson of Louis XIV, he gained fame by his exploits in battle. His victory in the battle of Fontenoy during the War of the Austrian Succession won him the position of Marshal of France.

His debauchery made him a famed libertine, known for his many female conquests and his cynicism. He played a major cultural role in the town through his support of artists, his friendship with Voltaire and his role in the arrival of Victor Louis to build the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux.

Portrait of the Duc de Richelieu (c) mairie de Bordeaux photo L.Gauthier