This black and red chalk portrait drawing depicts the head of the Maréchal de Montluc (ca. 1502-1577). Blaise de Lasseran-Massencôme, Seigneur de Montluc, was born in France near Condom in the modern department of Gers. Brought up as a page at the court of Lorraine, he became a soldier of fortune and fought in the Italian Wars and the Wars of Religion. In 1574, King Henri III made him marshal of France. Montluc’s memoirs, Commentaires de Messire Blaise de Montluc, were published posthumously in 1592 and came to be known as the "soldier's Bible." In it he vividly described his fifty years of military service (1521-1574).
This portrait is cut at the perimeter of the figure from its original support and is now pasted on a sheet of paper. The crown of the high hat is composed of two separate pieces of paper joined together. An inscription on the paper-covered backing board (now removed) identifies the artist and sitter and also gives the name of an early owner, H. de Béthune.
The drawing is attributed to the painter and draughtsman, Étienne Dumonstier (sometimes du Moustier) II (ca. 1540-1603). A member of a family of very successful artists, he worked for Henri II, Catherine de' Medici, and later for Henri IV and is mentioned in the royal accounts as “peintre et valet de chambre” between 1569 and 1599. In 1586 he received an annuity of 1330 livres, greater even than that received by the court artist, François Clouet. His fame as a painter and draughtsman lies in the infinite variety of tones which he employed to enhance his portraits, which made them more colorful and more luminous than earlier works.
"Seldom Seen," Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., April 21, 2014.
Reportedly in the collection of H. de Bethune (1520-1603).
Purchased from Bacri Frères Antiquaires, Paris (inv. no. 4044), by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 8/26/1921.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 8/26/1921-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.