the lost portrait of Maurice du Saxe

One day the bosses thought they found the lost portrait of Maurice de Saxe by Hyacinthe Rigaud on a flea market. Hélas, non.
Hermann Moritz Graf von Sachsen, aka. „maréchal de saxe“ (Marshal of Saxony), (born 28. October 1696 in Goslar (that’s my hometown too 😀 ; deceased 30. November 1750 at chateau Chambord) was a german commander and wartheoretician working for the french government.
Hyacinthe Rigaud (aka Hyacinthe-François-Honoré-Mathias-Pierre Martyr-André Jean Rigau y Ros) (born 18. July 1659 in Perpignan, Frankreich; deceased 29. December 1743 in Paris) was the most famous portrayer of the french Ancien Régime (french government before the revolution).
He made a portrait of Moritz aka Maurice. This portrait disappeared. It was copied quite often.
An engraver that copied it was Johann Georg Wille (born 5. November 1715 in Dünsberg near Gießen; deceased 5. April 1808 in Paris). Wille became famous because Rigaud has let him do engravings of all of his portraits.

That’s the engraving of Maurice de Saxe by Johann Georg Wille. It was a copy of the portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud that got lost. I found this picture on an hungarian site about the War of the Austrian Succession. I think it’s a page about the hungarian history but it is in Hungarian, so, that’s just a guess.

A nice short description of Wille’s life in english is at
In France Maurice de Saxe was some kind of popstar. Especially for his winning the battle of Fontenay (in Belgium) against a british guy called the Duke of Cumberland during the war of the Austrian Succession.
Anyways … somebody stole or destroyed (more likely) his nice portrait made by Rigaud. And all we got are those Wille engravings and loads of other copies.

One of those is

a japanese locket (end of 18th century).
This was picture of the week of the museum for far eastern art in Köln in Germany in March 2002. The text was written by Frieda Fischer (1874-1945), a former director of that museum. Again one of my bad translations:
Maurice de Saxe and a japanese beauty? How does that fit? Maurice never went to Japan and at that time it was impossible for Japanese to go to Europe. Japanese were not allowed to leave the country and the penalty was death.
The Netherlands were the only country that had relations with Japan. Dutch were allowed to live in Japan and to do business there.
Who ordered this locket? Was it a Dutch who wanted to make fun of the political enemy, who’s disposedness to amorous adventures was well known…
…Was it a courtier of August der Starke
(the father of Maurice de Saxe), who liked chinoiseries and japoneries and collected them. Who has paired up Maurice de Saxe with this Geisha?…
…The rendering of the head of Maurice is not according to japanese methods. It is painted like an engraving.

The engraving by Johann Georg Wille is nowadays in the Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden (Germany). The locket was found in Japan. Whoever ordered it, never collected it.

Maurice de Saxe is the great-grandfather of George Sand a famous french novelist (and feminist).


2 thoughts on “the lost portrait of Maurice du Saxe

  1. That is not quite right.
    Portuguese people were the first to arrive to Japan, about 1543, XVI century, and live there. Portuguese in Japan

    This is a place holder for some future project …

    In 1542 the three Portuguese became the first Europeans to visit Japan, when their ship sailed off course and reached the southern tip of Japanese Archipelago. This initiated the Nanban (“southern barbarian”) period of active commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West. During the next century, traders from Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and Spain arrived, as did Jesuit, Dominican, and Franciscan missionaries. In 1639, Suspicious of Christianity and of Portuguese support of a local Japanese revolt, the shoguns of the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) prohibited all trade with foreign countries; only a Dutch trading post at Nagasaki was permitted. Western attempts to renew trading relations failed until 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry sailed an American fleet into Tokyo Bay.

    Brief chronology of the Nanban period (Japan Guide):

    1542 Portuguese introduce firearms, Christianity and Tempura (!!) to Japan.
    1568 Nobunaga enters Kyoto.
    1573 The Muromachi Bakufu falls.
    1575 The Takeda clan is defeated in the battle of Nagashino.
    1582 Nobunaga is murdered and succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
    1588 Hideyoshi confiscates the weapons of farmers and religious institutions in the “Sword Hunt”.
    1590 Japan is reunited after the fall of Odawara (Hojo).
    1592-98 Unsuccessful invasion of Korea.
    1598 Death of Hideyoshi.
    1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats his rivals in the battle of Sekigahara.
    1603 Ieyasu is appointed shogun and establishes the Tokugawa government in Edo (Tokyo).
    1614 Ieyasu intensifies persecution of Christianity.
    1615 The Toyotomi clan is destroyed after Ieyasu captures Osaka Castle.
    1639 Almost complete isolation of Japan from the rest of the world.

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