Chevalier d’Eon [Charles-Geneviève de Beaumont] (Bradel, Jean Baptiste) Portrait Engraving, 1789
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Rare lifetime 1779 copper engraving of the 18th century French diplomat, spy, and soldier who lived openly as a man and as a woman in France and England at different stages of life, drawing much public interest, and who infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman. Portrait of Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont, usually known as the Chevalier d'Eon, bust in an oval frame. He wears a lace-trimmed cape over his gown, a ribbon around his neck and a lace cap, with pearl earrings and military order attached to a rosette on his breast by Jean Baptiste Bradel, who is known to also have produced an image of the Chevalier dressed as a male soldier. "Carola-Genovesa-Louisa-Augusta-Andrea-Timothee D'Eon de Beaumont,...A la Memoire des heroines Francoises Jeanne d'Arc, Jeanne hachette, &c, &c, &c. ...Dessiné & gravé par J. B. Bradel, d'apres nature et les Originaux communiques par Mademoiselle d'Eon a ce Seul Artiste." 9 x 14.5 inches (23 x 37 cm). Contained in a worn original 18th century wood gilt frame measuring 11.5 x 17 inches (29.5 x 43.5 cm). Staining and foxing to print, unexamined out of frame, but in apparently fine condition otherwise. Early frame glass should be replaced.
"The sex of Chevalier d’Eon (or if you want his actual name Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont) was of great interest to people in the eighteenth century. D’Eon claimed that he was born female but had been raised as a boy so that his father could inherit from his in-laws. When he was older, he joined the dragoons and habitually wore a dragoon’s uniform, even though rumors constantly circulated that he was a woman...The rumors exploded further when in 1770 when a betting pool was started on the London Stock Exchange about Chevalier d’Eon’s true sexual identity...After the death of Louis XV in May of 1774, Chevalier d’Eon negotiated his return. He then demanded the French government recognize him as a female. Although Louis XVI complied, he required d’Eon to dress in women’s clothing, and, in 1777, the king provided funds for him to buy a female wardrobe, which d’Eon did...The Chevalier eventually became paralyzed from injuries suffered during a fall and spent the remainder of his years bedridden with a widow named Madame Cole of New Millman Street caring for him. He died in poverty in London at the age of 81 on 21 May 1810 at 10pm .Questions about his sex had continued to circulate while he was alive. So it was not too surprising that after his death there was verification of his sex. When his corpse was laid out in a handsome oak coffin, covered with black cloth, and a black velvet cross on the lid, Madame Cole and others discovered he was man." ("Chevalier d'Éon: The Question of His Sex," Geri Walton, October 5, 2018; www.geriwalton.com)