Gabriel Revel (1643 Château-Thierry - 1712 Dijon)
Oil on canvas ; signed and dated "G. REVEL PINXIT. 1707" at the bottom left ; 167.2 x 67.5 cm
Rueil-Malmaison, Joron-Derem, 17th October 2010 ; Paris, Le Polyptyque collection ; Wilmington (Del.), The Horvitz Collection.
Dominique Brême, "La peinture en Bourgogne au 17ème siècle : Gabriel Revel et la diffusion de l’art officiel", Mémoires de l'Académie de Dijon, vol. CXXV, 1981-1982.
Gabriel Revel, born into a family of painters in Château-Thierry, worked in Paris alongside Le Brun, first painter to Louis XIV : initially at the Manufacture des Gobelins, in the early 1670s ; and most probably on the ceiling of the Hall of Mirrors (1679-1687) in Versailles. Accepted at the Academy in 1683, he settled permanently in Dijon around 1687, and became the main painter of the city for a quarter of a century.
His easel paintings are rare, due to his work at the Gobelins and Versailles, then to a limited production, thanks to high prices, and finally due to the neglect or forgetfulness of which his portraits or church paintings were often victims.
This painting in excellent condition, on its original canvas, is an Allegory of the Advice : identifiable in particular, in the words of Cesare Ripa's Iconology (translated and adapted by Jean Baudoin) by his "long scarlet robe", his "golden chain, where a heart hangs for a medal" – to simplify, good advice comes from the heart and worth gold –, the book he holds in his hand and the owl, animal of Minerva, goddess of Wisdom, standing at his feet.
The art of Louis XIV's France is essentially rhetorical, an art of eloquence – the same year 1707, Revel painted an Allegory of Eloquence (Lebanon, private collection) – and of persuasion. Here, Revel delivers a "speech on wisdom" that does not limit itself to the list of its attributes. He gives to the look an intelligence, to hands a finesse, to the cushion a ductility, not to say a subtlety, which deliberately or not refer to the the pleasures of reading and of the mind...