The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767 - 1855)
  • Self-portrait
  • France
  • c. 1795-1800
  • Miniature
  • Watercolour on ivory
  • Image size: 16.3 x 12.6 cm
  • Signature: 'J. Isabey'
  • M226
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Isabey was the most important figure in French miniature painting of the early nineteenth century.He produced self-portraits throughout his career. Like many of his rivals, he was aware of their value for promoting an artist's career. He painted a self-portrait at least as early as 1786, exhibited one to much acclaim at the Paris Salon of 1796, and two years later, also at the Salon, showed a large drawing in black chalk (a medium in which he also specialized) of himself and his family in a boat which became the basis for a famous engraving ('La Barque') by François Aubertin. As late as 1850, only five years before his death, an engraving of perhaps his last self-portrait was published. In almost every image of Isabey he is shown looking towards his right - presumably because he regarded this as presenting his 'better side'. Here Isabey wears a black coat, white shirt and white stock - fashionable attire for many well-to-do young men in Paris in the late 1790s. The mutton-chop whiskers were also something of a trademark for the artist - on the evidence of his portraits it seems that he retained them for the rest of his life.