Henri-Oswald de la Tour d'Auvergne
Engraving, 1749, after Hyacinthe Rigaud 1659-1743
Given by John Charrington 1933
Claude Drevet came from a family of highly skilled engravers who specialised in producing plates after portrait paintings. Fifty-three years earlier Pierre Drevet (1663-1738), Claude's uncle, had engraved a portrait of Henri Oswald's uncle, Cardinal Emanuel Thùodose de la Tour d'Auvergne (1643-1715), after a painting by François de Troy. Hyacinthe Rigaud began painting the portrait of the Archbishop of Vienna in the early 1730s. Around his neck Henri-Oswald is wearing the cross of l'Ordre du Saint-Esprit, an honour bestowed upon him by King Louis XV in May 1733. Surviving correspondence shows that Claude started the plate in 1739, but it took him several years to finish: the print was not announced for sale until 1749, two years after Henri-Oswald's death. It is Claude's latest dated print; one of only two dated between 1739 and 1749. This has been seen as evidence of the impact of the loss of his uncle and his cousin, Pierre-Imbert Drevet (1697-1739), in a short space of time.
Pierre-Imbert was more prolific and is generally considered the most talented family member, able to imitate an extraordinary variety of textures with marks engraved into a metal plate. However, the fine detail in this print shows that Claude could equal his cousin's touch: particularly in the ermine and lace of the bishop's rich clothing, the pommel of his cap, and the subtle modelling of the veins on his left hand (see detail).