Rare lifetime portrait of philosopher Rousseau offered by Lyon & Turnbull29 October 2019 A portrait of the Genevan philosopher, writer and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) is offered at Lyon & Turnbull this month.
Rousseau was famed as an Enlightenment thinker throughout Europe. His philosophy, expressed in his works Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract, influenced modern political and social thought as well as aspects of the French Revolution and educational ideas.
However, the portrait is one of only a few images of the philosopher completed during his lifetime.
It is offered at the auction house’s sale The Classic Tradition: European Art from 15th-19th Centuries on October 30 with an estimate of £10,000-15,000.
The oil on canvas, which measures 2ft 6in x 2ft (76 x 61cm), was painted by the French artist François Guérin probably in the 1760s, around the time that Rousseau completed The Social Contract. He is shown as a scholar, sitting at his desk with a quill pen and an envelope.
Originally it was owned by the writer’s cousin, Jean Francois Xavier Rousseau. Over the years, the identity of the artist was lost until, in 2016, his signature was rediscovered during cleaning.