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Jan Anthony d'Averhoult door Louis-Léopold Boilly: de geschiedenis achter een ongewoon portret

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The soldier and politician Jan Anthony d'Averhoult (1756-1792) was portrayed in 1792 (or perhaps posthumously, but no later than 1793) by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761 - 1845). On the basis of new data the author reconstructs the exceptional circumstances under which the portrait was painted and adds vital data to the sitter's biography. Jan Anthony d'Averhoult played an prominent role in his native city of Utrecht during the Batavian revolution. In 1788 he was forced to flee to France, where he was naturalized and embarked on a second career. In January 1702 he briefly held the office of president of the Assemblée Nationale, in which capacity he was portrayed by Boilly. Reports of his parliamentary speeches and actions are to be found in the Archives parlementaires (note 9). Like his friend and kindred spirit La Fayette, d'Averhoult was in favour of the constitutional monarchy. In the summer of 1792 the monarchist cause was lost. D'Averhoult attempted to flee north, but died a violent death on August 26 1792. Few details about his relationship with his aunt, Josina Bcnjamina d'Averhoult (1724- 1807), are divulged in the literature pertaining to d'Averhoult. After a family tragedy in his childhood she became a significant factor in his life and she accompanied him to France in 1788. A receipt shows that she paid for his portrait in 1793, and that François Vitto Elia, an Amsterdam art dealer, acted as an intermediary (note 28). In view of the close ties between the aunt and her nephew it is not unlikely that she commissioned the portrait. She had it framed, probably along with a pair of portraits of her parents, painted in 1721 by Constantijn Netscher, published here for the first time. Boilly's portrait stayed in the family until it was bequeathed to the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, in 1980.


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