The Spartan Mother
Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée, the elder (Paris 1725 – Paris 1805)
Oil painting on canvas, The Spartan Mother by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée the elder (Paris 1725 – Paris 1805), signed and dated 1770. This elegant classical scene is a celebration of manly virtue in a domestic setting. When the paint was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1771, the source of its subject matter was identified as Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus (75 AD), in which a Spartan matron sends her son off to war with the gift of a shield. She is seen here commanding him either to return the shield to her in victory, or with his corpse laid across it. The picture was bought from the artist by the Hoare family for the sum of 1,500 French Livres under the title Une Lacédémonienne donnant un bouclier à son fils.
Commissioned by the Duc de Choiseul (1719 – 1785); exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1771; bought from the artist by the Hoare family, thence by descent; given to the National Trust along with the house, its grounds, and the rest of contents by Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare, 6th Bt (1865 – 1947) in 1946.
Stourhead, The Hoare Collection (The National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
Recto: Signed and dated: L. Lagrenee 1770
Makers and roles
Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée, the elder (Paris 1725 – Paris 1805), artist
Salon, Paris, 1771, no.20 Colt Hoare 1818 Sir Richard Colt Hoare, A Description of the House and Gardens at Stourhead...with a Catalogue of the Pictures, Salisbury 1800, Bath 1818, rev. 1822, no.93 Stourhead 1898 Alda, Lady Hoare, Catalogue of Principal Paintings & Drawings at Stourhead July 6th 1898 (Ms.typescript), 1898 , p.21 J.Locquin, La Peinture d'Histoire en France de 1747 a 1785, 1912 , p.205 Sandoz 1961 Marc Sandoz, 'Paintings by Lagrénée the Elder at Stourhead', Burlington Magazine, CIII, 1961, pp.392-3 France in the 18th century, Royal Academy, London, 1968, no.367 Angelica Kauffmann und ihre Zeitgenossen, Bregenz,1968 , No.318, pl.129 Age of Neo-Classicism, Royal Academy (Council of Europe), London, 1972, no.179