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Alexandre-Auguste Robineau (1747-1828)

The Fencing-Match between the Chevalier de Saint-George and the Chevalier d'Eon c. 1787-9

RCIN 400636

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This painting records a fencing display which took place at Carlton House on 9 April 1787. It shows Chevalier de Saint-George (left) parrying (or preventing) an attack from the Chevalier d’Eon (right); George, Prince of Wales can be seen standing behind the two sparring figures.

Both of the combatants were celebrities. D’Eon was a decorated soldier, diplomat and spy, who had left France for London when Louis XVI came to the throne. In London D’Eon, a transvestite, lived as a woman and earned money through celebrity fencing matches. Saint-George, from Guadeloupe, was a master swordsman and a talented composer, who counted Mozart among his acquaintances.

This painting is a rare depiction of life at Carlton House, where George held such entertainments as part of a glittering alternative court which rivalled his father’s official establishment. 

Probably painted for George