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Portrait miniature - Portrait miniature of the Chevalier d'Eon
  • Portrait miniature of the Chevalier d'Eon
    Judlin, Alexis
  • Enlarge image

Portrait miniature of the Chevalier d'Eon

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Judlin, Alexis (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    miniature painting on ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Grace Valentine Stephenson as part of the R. H. Stephenson Bequest

  • Museum number:

    P.31-1929

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RMC, shelf 9, box J

Charles, Chevalier d’Éon de Beaumont, (born Oct. 5, 1728, Tonnerre, Fr.—died May 21, 1810, London), French secret agent from whose name the term “eonism”, denoting the tendency to adopt the costume and manners of the opposite sex, is derived.

His first mission was to the Russian empress Elizabeth in 1755, on which he seems to have disguised himself as a woman. After good service as a dragoon captain, he went to London in 1762, with the Duc de Nivernais (Louis Jules Mancini). On returning to Versailles with the Treaty of Paris ratified (1763), he received the cross of St. Louis. Sent back to London with secret instructions from the King for espionage, he became involved in a quarrel with the French ambassador but refused to return to France—afterward claiming that Louis XV had instructed him to redisguise himself as a woman and to hide in the city.

Speculation began in London as to the Chevalier’s sex. Eventually, in need of money, he pretended to Beaumarchais in 1775 that he was really a woman. Believing this, Beaumarchais managed to get him a pension, but Éon was ordered to return to France wearing women’s dress. In 1777 he received the command; “By order of the king: Charles-Geneviève-Louise-Auguste-Andrée-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont is commanded to leave off the dragoon’s uniform which she is wearing, and to dress according to her sex”. Thenceforth he always wore women’s dress. Having returned to London in 1785, he died there 25 years later. An autopsy performed two days after his death certified him male.

(from the Encyclopædia Britannica).

Physical description

Oval portrait miniature of the Chevalier d'Eon.

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)

Date

ca. late 18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Judlin, Alexis (artist)

Materials and Techniques

miniature painting on ivory

Marks and inscriptions

Mademoiselle / la Chevaliere D'Eon / Painted from the Life / in London 1776 / by Monr. Judelin.
engraved on the back

Dimensions

Height: 1.4375 in, Width: 1.125 in

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of the Chevalier d'Eon by Alexis Judlin. French School, ca. late 18th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1929, London: Board of Education, 1930.

Materials

Ivory

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Portrait; Gender; Trans; Subject; Transgender

Categories

Paintings; Portraits; Gender and Sexuality; LGBTQ

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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