'Louis XV Rigaud' 1975, Stephen Farthing
Casein paint, enamel and metal leaf on canvas, 189.2 x 137.2cm
Accession Number WAG9137
The source of Farthing’s image is a portrait of Louis XV, who ruled France from 1715 to 1770, by the court painter Hyacinthe Rigaud, now in the chateau of Versailles. Farthing was interested in the way that Rigaud packaged the sitter to create an epitome of royal authority, rather than treat the king as an individual human being.
In his own version, Farthing mixed an elaborate package of 20th century styles, together with collage, caricature and graffiti, to create an entertaining and exuberant display of formal devices. At the time he made the work, Farthing was a student at the Royal College of Art and in the vanguard of a return to strongly figurative imagery in painting in the late 1970s.