As is often the case for pictures from the collection of King Louis-Philippe (reigned 1830-1848), the reverse of the canvas bears his distinctive monogram stamp (fig. 1) and extensive text identifying the sitter. The present picture, however, has received two such identifications. The first inscription, which has been crossed out, reads:
Charles Auguste Goyon de Matignon, Comte de Gacé, Maréchal de France, 6º fils de François de Matignon, Comte de Thorigny & de Gacé & de Anne Malon de Bercy, né le 28 Mai 1647, marié à Paris le 8 Avril 1681 à Marie Elisabeth Berthelot, mort à Paris le 6 Décembre 1729.
The second inscription, located above the aforementioned one, reads:
Jacques Goyon III, Sire de Matignon, Comte de Thorigny.
Baron de St Lô, 5º fils de François de Matignon& de Anne Malon de Bercy./ Né à Thorigny le 28 Mai 1644./ Chevalier des Ordres du Roi en 1693./ Marié en 1675 à sa nièce Charlotte de Matignon, fille de Henri de Matignon, et de Marie Françoise le Tellier./ Mort à Paris le 14 Janvier 1725.
Jacques Goyon III, whose biographical information is provided in the latter inscription, was the guide of the King's Scottish Guards, and served in the military in Portugal and on the Barbary Coast. Appointed Chevalier des Ordres du Roi (a prestigious order of kinghthood) in 1688, he was then appointed lieutenant general in 1693. He was one of the bearers of honors on the occasion of Louis XV's crowning in 1722. On July 25, 1723, he bought a large piece of land from the Prince of Tingry on the rue de Varenne in Paris.
Henri Gascars was born in Paris but traveled for much of his life, spending time in the Netherlands, Rome and England, where he worked at the court of Charles II. His attention to detail and affinity for the grandiose, as seen in the present portrait, made him a popular portraitist amongst the English aristocracy. Upon returning to Paris in 1679, he was reçu into the Academie Royale but stayed in France only briefly; the artist settled in Rome in the spring of 1680.