Louis-Jules-Barbon Mancini-Mazarini, duc de Nivernais (1716-1798)
Allan Ramsay (Edinburgh 1713 - Dover 1784)
The sitter was an influential cultural and literary figure, as well as statesman. He was a French diplomat and Minister of State and ambassador extraordinary to George III when he helped negotiate the terms of the Peace of Paris of 1763, which ended the Seven Years’ War at the time this portrait was probably painted. When he came to London to sign the peace treaty, Charles Townsend said of him that the preliminaries of a man had come to sign the preliminaries of a peace, a reference to his slight build. Nivernais is here shown wearing the blue silk sash of the Order of St Esprit. The portrait can probably be dated prior to the autumn 1763, when he returned to France from England unless it was two years later when the artist spent time in Paris. He translated Horace Walpole’s ‘Essay on Modern Gardening’ into French but Walpole, rather discourteously, wrote in his diaries of 1763: "The duc de Nivernois has parts and writes at the top of the mediocre... [and] lives in a small circle of dependent admirers" whom Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey of 6 St James's Square, London and Ickworth was one.
Oil painting on canvas, Louis-Jules-Barbon Mancini-Mazarini, duc de Nivernais (1716-1798) by Allan Ramsay (Edinburgh 1713 - Dover 1784), circa 1763. A half-length portrait of the French diplomat, Ambassador in Rome in 1748 and in Berlin in 1756 and Minister of State and Ambassador to the Court of St James in 1761, in profile to right, head facing, wearing a red coat, watered blue silk sash across his right shoulder (which is of the Order of the St Esprit [Holy Ghost]), powdered hair tied with a black ribbon, white stock; his cocked hat under his left arm. He spent a year in London from September 1762 and was friends with Mary, Lady Hervey and Horace Walpole, who described him as a 'very plain and little in his person, but with an air of a gentleman.' In 1782 he married the comtesse de Rochefort. Another similar version is at Boconnoc, Cornwall.
In undated Picture List - 6 St James's Square and Edmund Farrer, List of additions to Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), 1908; and thence by descent to Rear Admiral Frederick William Fane Hervey, 4th Marquess of Bristol (1863-1951), on whose death valued for probate; accepted in lieu of tax by HM Treasury, and transferred to the National Trust in 1956
Ickworth, The Bristol Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Allan Ramsay (Edinburgh 1713 - Dover 1784), artist
"A rational taste of resemblance", Allan Ramsay and the portraiture of learning., The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 2013, no.55
Blunt 1973 Antony Blunt, Drawings at Waddesdon Manor, Master Drawings, XI, no.4, 1973, pl.3