L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, November 11, 2016

Les Yeux d'un ange roux - a portrait of M. Duval by Firmin Massot, circa 1820s

A small - approximately nine and a half by eleven and a half inches - oil painting on wood. I've been able to find nothing on the charming subject of this portrait except that it appears he was, like the artist, of Swiss nationality. The small panel's very noticeable craquelure only serves, I think, to emphasize the young man's quite dewy beauty.


Firmin Massot (5 May 1766, Geneva – 16 May 1849, Geneva), Swiss portrait painter. The son of a master watchmaker, he began his studies at the age of twelve, later attending classes at the Société des Arts de Genève where he studied with Jean-Étienne Liotard, among others. He traveled in Italy from 1787 to 1788 and the following year exhibited for the first time at Geneva's Salon; at the next Salon, he won the Grand Prize. He married in 1795 and he and his wife would have three children. In 1799, he was named director of the Écoles de dessin de la ville de Genève and, one year later, became a member of the Société des Arts. From 1807 to 1813, he traveled throughout France, making contacts with fellow artists, François Gérard and Jean-Baptiste Isabey among them. And from 1828 to 1829, he toured England and Scotland, receiving many commissions along the way. Until 1820, many of his portraits were done in collaboration with the landscape painter Wolfgang-Adam Töpffer and the animal painter Jacques-Laurent Agasse. Massot would paint the figures while his associates would fill in the backgrounds with various items and symbols particular to the sitter. Perhaps because of this teamwork, very few of his paintings are signed and attribution has proved difficult. Approximately 250 works by his hand have been authenticated. He was commissioned by many illustrious clients, including Madame Recamier, the Empress Joséphine and her daughter, Queen Hortense. After a long and successful career, he died in the place of his birth at the age of eighty-three.

His elder sister, Jeanne-Pernette Schenker-Massot was also an artist, a successful miniaturist.


  1. Just wonderful. Keep on posting these amazing paintings, personalities and photographs, Stephen - I learn something new every time. We all need a little of that more than ever these days.

  2. He looks as beautiful and as redheaded as Schiller, but, unfortunately, the dates don't match.
    Thank you, Stephen for your fantastic blog.