The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
A Cavalier: Time of Louis XIII
  • (Jean-Louis-) Ernest Meissonier (1815 - 1891)
  • A Cavalier: Time of Louis XIII
  • France
  • 1861
  • Painting
  • Oil on oak panel
  • Object size: 23.8 x 18.6 x 0.6 cm, oak panel
    Image size: 23.8 x 16 cm
    with frame, Object size: 47.5 x 40.5 x 8 cm
  • Signature: 'EMeissonier 1861', the 'EM' in monogram
  • P291
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • 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 produced sculptures, particularly of horses. Much honoured, in 1889 he became the first artist to receive the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. This is probably now the best known of his single figures of seventeenth-century military men, as much a fashion plate as an insight into seventeenth-century French military life. The painting was bought by Lord Hertford the year before he bought the painting by Frans Hals now known as 'The Laughing Cavalier ' (P84).