Louis-Philippe, Duke of Valois, on the Cradle ~ 1774


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Louis-Philippe, Duke of Valois, on the Cradle by Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié ~ 1774
« He was a painter of nature and everything he did was imbued with the truth » wrote an anonymous critic about the art of Nicolas Bernard Lépicié (1735-1784), during the Salon of 1785. Nicolas Bernard Lépicié is often considered as one of the most sensitive observers of his time. Although he had dreamed of becoming a history painter, his contemporaries thought him more talented as a genre painter. His father was an académicien and his mother engraved works by Chardin. Although he usually painted the children of the bourgeoisie, a painting in the Pushkin Museum does represent an aristocratic family gathered around a priest.
Our painting shows the future royals, the Orléans family. Despite the exceptional status of the sitters, Lépicié has not altered his style here. He depicts the family with the same tenderness used, for example, in illustrating the rousing of a servant in his work The Awakening of Fanchon (Musée de l’Hôtel Sandelin, Saint-Omer). In the present work, the duc d’Orléans (1747-1793) lifts up a curtain to watch his young baby, the future King Louis-Philippe, sleeping. As Louis-Philippe was born in October 1773 and our painting is dated 1774, this work would appear to be a unique testimony to future king of the Palais-Royal’s first months. The composition is lavished with a wealth of detail, emphasising the rich velvet of the chairs or the curtains surrounding the baby. Lépicié seems to also have spent time over the portait of the young black servant Scipion, whose exotic profile is painted with care.

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