An exotic visitor to Paris: context and possible identities for Claude-Marie Dubufe’s portrait
A miniature by Paul Gomien, recently purchased by
the Fondation Custodia (fig. 12) affords another very
favourable comparison and is also dated 1827. Finally,
a portrait by Jean-Jacques Monanteuil in a French
private collection (fig. 13) can be cited in connection
with Dubufe’s work. The sitter wears a red fez in
place of a turban, so that much of his wavy black hair
is visible. However, the striking facial similarities,
and the fact that he wears the same jacket and
undergarments in the same colour scheme, allow us
to be confident that yet again we have the same man.
Monanteuil’s picture, though, is dated 1830, with the
initial inference therefore being that this portrait, and
by extension Dubufe’s, does not represent Hassan who,
as we already know, returned to Egypt in October
1827. Conversely, it is just possible that Monanteuil’s
portrait was either inspired by Dubufe’s or perhaps a
reprise of an earlier work; to that end it is worth noting
that Monanteuil exhibited a Tête de turc, étude après nature
in the Salon of 1827 (no. 1700).
Fig. 12 / Paul Gomien, Portrait
of a Man with Turban, 1827,
miniature, 12 x 14 cm, Paris,
Fondation Custodia.
Fig. 13 / Jean-Jacques
Monanteuil, Portrait of a
Man with Fez, 1830, oil on
canvas, 57.5 x 47.5 cm, Private
We know from contemporary sources that Hassan,
due to his association with Zarafa and his exotic
appearance, generated considerable public attention
in his own right, and it would therefore be no surprise
if he was depicted on numerous occasions by several
of the leading artists of the day, whether he sat for the
artists in person or whether they relied on pre-existing
portraits for their own versions. The combination
of these portraits, and the logical conclusion drawn
from them, namely that this was an individual of
great appeal to Parisian society, allows us to safely
discredit the notion that we are merely looking at an
anonymous “Jeune Grec”: by claiming Greek nationality
for a striking and “noble-looking” man, the imprecise
title of the lithograph can be explained away as
an exploitation of the philhellenism then sweeping
through France.15
An exotic visitor to Paris: context and possible identities for Claude-Marie Dubufe’s portrait


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