(Jean-Louis-) Ernest Meissonier (1815 - 1891)
- A Cavalier: Time of Louis XIV
- Oil on cedar panel
- Object size: 14 x 9.4 cm
Image size: 13.5 x 9.1 cm
with frame, Object size: 32.5 x 28 x 8 cm
- Signature: 'EM [im monogram] 1856'
- West Gallery III
- Meissonier had only a brief artistic education and was largely self-taught. His early career was as a book illustrator, but in the late 1830s he also began to establish a reputation as a painter of historical genre scenes. Their small scale, meticulous detail and historical accuracy made them enormously attractive to many collectors. Within a decade he was the most expensive artist in France, his paintings largely the preserve of the financial and social élite. Many of his subjects were taken from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (cavaliers, artists and musicians, gentlemen at leisure), but in the 1860s he turned increasingly to scenes from Napoleon’s military campaigns, some painted on a more ambitious scale than his earlier works. He also produces sculptures, particularly of horses. Much honoured, in 1889 he became the first artist to receive the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. This painting is one of his many single figures of seventeenth-century military men, as much a fashion plate as an insight into seventeenth-century French military life.