CHAMPAIGNE, Philippe de
(b. 1602, Bruxelles, d. 1674, Paris)
Portrait of a Man1650
Oil on canvas, 91 x 72 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Midway through his career, Champaigne satisfied the needs of middle-class patrons. In works such as this Portrait of a MAn in the Louvre, he recorded his sitters faithfully and well. It is easy to see Champaigne as a painter who epitomized French art at the time, but although there is a superficial 'classical',restraint, there are no classical overtones. Champaigne's austerity in fact predated that of Poussin, and its source was the portrait painting of the fifteenth-century Netherlandish masters. Champaigne did not hesitate to use the conventions of almost two hundred years before, simply because they were successful ones. The convention of the man behind a ledge, typical of Van Eyck and the generation including Memling and Bouts that came after him, is made freer by Champaigne, who permitted a greater degree of realism in his work: for instance moisture is visible on the slightly open lips of the sitter.
The sitter of this portrait is unidentified.