The French painter and diplomat Auguste Louis Jean-Baptiste Rivière was a brother-in-law of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, who was already a famous portraitist by the time their siblings married in 1784. At that time Rivière was studying at the Académie Royale after having first trained in Dresden. During the Revolution, both Vigée Le Brun and Rivière fled Paris; the two connected in Turin and from there Rivière continued to accompany the artist and her daughter across Europe and into Russia. During these years the two painters often worked together, with Rivière painting smaller-scale copies of Vigée Le Brun's life-size portraits.
This charming portrait is a reduction of Vigée Le Brun's Portrait of Count Grigory Ivanovich Chernyshev,
now in the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg.1
Though neither version is dated, there is mention of the portrait in Vigée Le Brun's memoirs from a list of orders in 1793, when she and Rivière were in Vienna; Rivière's version must therefore date from after 1793 but before he and Vigée leave for Russia in June of 1795. It is likely that the artists would have met Count Chernyshev at one of the numerous balls held by the Russian Ambassador to Vienna, Count Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky, or at one of the events put on at the home of Alexandrovich Stroganov.
We are grateful to Joseph Baillio for proposing the attribution to Rivière on the basis of photographs and for his assistance with the cataloguing of the picture.
1. Inv. no. GE 7459, oil on canvas, 22 by 17 3/8 in.; 56 by 44 cm. See J. Baillio et al., Vigée Le Brun, New Haven 2016, p. 167, cat. no. 55, reproduced p. 166.