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The first major study of portrait miniatures from the Victorian era

Luigi Aspetti (b. 1815)

Louis XVII (1785-96) c. 1862

Watercolour on ivory | 8.6 x 7.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 420358

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Louis XVII is depicted here in in profile wearing the crown, robes of state and the chain of the order of St Esprit. The miniature is preserved in its original gilt frame with easel stand, engraved on the reverse with the inscription: LOUIS XVII. / DAUPHIN DE LOUIS XVI. / BORN 1785 – DIED 1796 / L. ASPETTI, PINX. / AFTER A PORTRAIT IN THE PALACE OF MALTA. / PRESENTED TO / H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES / BY THE GOVERNOR OF MALTA / LT. GEN L. Sir GASPARD LE MARCHANT, 1862. An oil painting matching this description is now in the Royal Collection (RCIN 406392). It cannot be established with certainty whether this painting is the one formerly in Valletta, but if so, it would seem that this was the source for Aspetti's copy.

Aspetti's miniature appears to be one of the set of oil miniatures commissioned by Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant in 1860. Born in Florence, Luigi Aspetti worked as a miniaturist in Italy. Active in Malta c.1850 – 62, he produced large-scale religious subjects from his studio at 80 Strada San Giuseppe, Valletta, as well as a series of ten oil on ivory miniatures for the governor, General Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant (1803 – 74), which included miniatures of former Grand Masters, of Don Sebastian, King of Portugal, and of Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant himself. Aspetti’s miniature of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, as a midshipman in Malta, is in the Malta Maritime Museum.

Signed and inscribed in gold: DAUPHIN DU LOUIS XVI. Né. 1785. Mort. 1796 [sic]. Loui [sic] Aspetti p.