'The Young Duke', 1888-9
William Quiller Orchardson (1832-1910)
Accession Number LL3612
This is an imaginary scene set in France during the reign of Louis XIV; the guests at a banquet to celebrate the young duke’s coming of age are drinking his health. Reconstructions of 18th-century leisured social life, sometimes without a precise literary or historical source as here, were popular in late 19th-century Britain and France, but Orchardson’s rendering is unusually critical of the customs and manners he is describing.
Most contemporary critics, however, preferred to emphasize Orchardson’s technical skill in painting the still life of the flowers and tableware in the lower half of the picture.
An extended study of 'The Young Duke' is available online as part of our picture of the month series.