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Marie Melchior Joseph Théodore de Lagrené from the Middleton Watercolor Album

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Marie Melchior Joseph Théodore de Lagrené from the Middleton Watercolor Album

Currently in storage


About this object

Marie Melchior Joseph Théodore de Lagrené (1800-1862) was born in Amiens, France into an old Picardian family. Little is known of his upbringing, but he entered diplomacy at an early age—by 1822 he was attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1823 Marie was sent to Russia to assist French Ambassador Pierre Louis Auguste de la Ferronnays. He performed similar duties at the embassies in Constantinople and Madrid between 1825 and 1828. That year Marie returned to Russia to serve as Second Secretary at the embassy. He was promoted to First Secretary in 1831. Contemporaries described him as handsome and intelligent, but also quite arrogant—Dorothea de Ficquelmont, a Russian writer and hostess, characterized Marie’s views as “smug” and noted in her 1829 journal that the “words he spews forth are a mixture of vanity and frivolity.” In 1834 Marie married Varvara Dubenskaya, a maid of honor to Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna. Shortly thereafter he was transferred to Greece, where he was appointed Resident Minister and then Minister Plenipotentiary. In 1843, French king Louis Philippe sent Marie to China to conclude a commercial treaty. The resulting Treaty of Whampoa granted France the same trade privileges with China as Britain. After his success abroad, Marie returned to France. He left government following the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, only to be elected representative to the Legislative Assembly in 1849. Marie retired from public life in the wake of Louis-Napoléon's coup in 1851. He died in Paris in 1862.

The bust-length portrait portrays Marie Melchior Joseph Théodore de Lagrené facing partly left, with eyes looking right, against a neutral background. The young man is shown with tousled dark hair and sideburns. He wears a dark green coat with a black collar over a beige waistcoat and white shirt with a black cravat.

Category:
PAINTINGS
Object name:
Marie Melchior Joseph Théodore de Lagrené from the Middleton Watercolor Album
Made from:
Watercolor on paper
Date made:
1823-1834

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
52.39.39
Credit line:
Museum Purchase, 2004