The Marquis de Lafayette Prints Collection includes more than 650 digitized images drawn from the collections at Skillman Library and the Lafayette College Art Collection. Most of the images are contemporaneous with Lafayette’s life (1757-1834) and depict his involvement in the American and French Revolutions, French politics, and his Farewell Tour of America, 1824-25. Many of the images are portraits of Lafayette, based on paintings or other engravings of him. The prints are primarily lithographs, although the collection also includes stipple and line engravings, etchings, mezzotints, and aquatints. The prints are organized into series, reflecting as much as possible a chronological order based on Lafayette’s age in the portrait, rather than the date the likeness was printed. Many of the series are set up under the name of the artist on whose original painting the print was or appears to have been based. The Prints Collection is one of several collections at Lafayette College documenting the life and career of the man for whom it is named. Other materials include rare books, manuscripts, memorabilia, and paintings and sculpture.
Series I includes portrait engravings of Lafayette which date prior to 1789. These prints are based on portraits or engravings by artists Michel Honoré Bounieu (1740-1814), Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), Jean Baptiste Le Paon (1736-1785), and L. Barre. Characteristics of this youthful rendering of Lafayette include a full, oval face, plain hair-dressing, and a simple military uniform usually without any military decoration.
The prints of Series II are based on the Edme Quenedey (1756-1830) portrait of Lafayette executed in September of 1789. Common characteristics of these prints include a full or three-quarter bust view, military uniform with a lace jabot, bare head, and a wig with a queue.
Portraits of Series III are based upon a Charles François Gabriel Levachez (1730-1850) painting executed during the late 18th to early 19th-century. It is possible that Levachez used the Quenedey profile for his model, as the prints filed in this series exhibit some of the same common characteristics as the Quenedey type with several unique identifying details or differences. These include a plain white neck-band in place of the lace jabot, a profile always to the left, a posture more emphatically erect, and a face slightly more mature.
Series IV includes portraits based on the Philibert-Louis Debucourt (1755-1832) painting of February, 1790. In many ways this type is also similar to the Quenedey type. A marked difference which makes the Debucourt prints unique is the turned-up nose in profile. Also, these prints usually show the bust in a three-quarter turn to the right or left with the head in full profile.
The prints of Series V are based upon a pastel portrait executed by Jean-Baptiste Weyler (1747-1791) in October of 1790. This type shows Lafayette in the uniform of the National Guard, bust and head to the right, eyes looking directly at the viewer. He is bare-headed and only the ends of the ribbon to his queue show. He wears a white neck-cloth and lace jabot with his coat open and the upper portion of the waistcoat unbuttoned. Three medals are worn on the left lapel. Throughout this series, prints classed here exhibit a great deal of variation. Most portraits are to the left, and the uniform can be quite different. Several prints display Lafayette in a coat with a high double collar, broad lapels, a black neck-cloth, and without medals. This series is one of the largest of the portrait categories, containing more than 50 individual prints.
Prints in Series VI are derived from a portrait of Lafayette engraved ca. 1790 by the German artist Christian Gottfried Jacobi (1764-1845). None of the prints in this series actually carry any printed reference to Jacobi. These Jacobi-type prints are mainly of German origin and often carry the name of another German artist, Johann Friedrich Bolt (1769-1836). Often these prints are dated 1792 and display the following characteristics: Lafayette is shown in bust to the left, with his head in profile to the left, in a uniform and queue, and wearing a hat carrying a plume and the cockade of the Paris National Guard.
Series VII contains a variety of portraits created prior to 1800. Many of these prints contain characteristics common to several of the previous series, but cannot be separated into such specific categories. For the most part, these portraits display the younger Lafayette in the uniform of the Paris National Guard.
Prints of Series VIII are based upon an 1818 Clary (dates unknown) portrait of Lafayette. This type shows Lafayette at the time of his return to French politics as leader of the liberal opposition to the reactionary Bourbon regime of Louis XVIII. Such portraits reflect his years of private life in the French countryside after time spent in prison and exile. His is portrayed both in civilian clothes and uniform with a rather full face, white collar, neck-band tied in a loose bow, and usually a jabot.
Series IX contains prints of Lafayette based on the 1822 portrait painted by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858). The original painting now hangs in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber in Washington, D.C. Just as the Quenedey profile of Series II and the Weyler portrait of Series V were the most popular representations of Lafayette as a young man, the Scheffer full-length figure became the world's conception of Lafayette in his later years. Consequently, this series is also one of the largest of the collection, containing approximately 60 portraits of Lafayette. The characteristics of the Scheffer-type print are distinctive and range as follows: in full-length or bust, to the left, in civilian clothes and an open heavy overcoat, right hand holding a hat and resting on a walking stick, left hand on his hip or partially thrust into his pocket, and white neck-cloth in a bow or knotted. Several portraits located toward the end of the series portray Lafayette without the overcoat.
There is no known record of a Lafayette portrait rendered by an artist named Gerard, although the majority of the prints in Series X carry the notation "Gerard pinxt," indicating that the portrait from which the print was designed was painted by Gerard. Prints of this series are dated ca. 1830, and several are of German or Dutch origin. They display Lafayette in civilian dress with an overcoat that is usually buttoned and a white collar and neck-band with a bow or sometimes a ruffle or jabot.
The French historical painter, Antoine Maurin (1793-1860), is responsible for the original images from which the prints in Series XI were made. These show Lafayette in both uniform and in civilian dress, in bust or full-length portrait. The characteristic presentation in the civilian dress portraits includes a partially unbuttoned coat, a white collar with loose bow or knot, and a ribbon decoration on the left lapel. Lafayette’s face wears a tired expression with a suggestion of a smile. The prints showing Lafayette in military uniform show a double-breasted coat with epaulets, a high collar, and white knotted neck-cloth tied in a bow.
Prints of Series XII are examples of prints after the Scheffer type of Series IX and the Gerard type of Series X. The major artist of the group is Simon Julien (1735-1800), although several prints are related to the works of artist Amédée Félix Barthélémy Geille (1802-1843) and Albert Massard. A common characteristic of all these prints is the military uniform with a plain black neck-band. Some characteristics are specific to each artist, such as in the case of the Julien type, where the top and fourth button of the coat are undone. In the Geille type, the top four buttons are undone on the coat and the head is tilted back. The Massard prints exhibit a different style coat, unbuttoned, with an embroidered collar, and the head is more similar to the Scheffer type.
Series XIII contains portraits displaying various types of heads, after the Scheffer and Gerard types of Series IX and X. Throughout these prints, Lafayette is typically portrayed in military uniform with a white neck-band and collar but without a bow
The portraits of Series XIV are from engravers Luigi Bridi and Forestier and show little influence of Scheffer or Gerard. In all of these prints, Lafayette is shown in military uniform with a high collar.
Prints of Series XV are mainly after Scheffer. Characteristics include the military uniform with the coat collar in gold embroidery open at top, a jabot, and an overcoat with a fur collar.
Portraits of Series XVI include those based on the Achille-Louis Martinet (1806-1877) painting of 1830 as well as other miscellaneous full and half-length portraits of the later period. Most of these portraits display Lafayette in uniform.
Prints in Series XVII are portraits which cannot be classed with those of Series VIII to XVI. They are grouped as miscellaneous portraits from 1800-1834 and are unique in either face or presentation.
Series XVIII is the last of the portrait groupings. These prints vary greatly in presentation and are associated together mainly because they show Lafayette mounted on a horse.
Caricatures of Lafayette are found in Series XIX and predominantly take the form of French political cartoons, 1789-1832. Highlights of this series include two caricatures by Honoré Daumier (1808-1879): "Le Cauchemar", published under Daumier's pseudonym, Rogelin, and “Enfoncé Lafayette”. In Le Cauchemar or “The Nightmare,” Lafayette is shown weighted down by a huge pear symbolizing King Louis-Philippe, whom Lafayette helped put on the French throne in 1830. In "Enfoncé Lafayette" King Louis-Philippe appears as a hypocritical mourner at Lafayette's funeral in 1834, saying, "Take that, Lafayette; I bet you're beaten now." It has been described as one of Daumier's greatest works as well as one of the masterpieces of the art of lithography.
Symbolic compositions involving Lafayette or relating to events in his life are found in the prints of Series XX. Compositions portrayed here date from Lafayette's involvement in the French Revolution to his political involvements of 1830.
Portraits of members of Lafayette's family are arranged alphabetically in Series XXI. Prints include those of two of his children, George Washington and Virginie, as well as his wife, Adrienne de Noailles de Lafayette. Several images depict Lafayette’s great aunt by marriage, the French writer, Marie Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, Madame de La Fayette (1634-1693).
Series XXII provides a detailed visual history of the events in Lafayette's political career. The majority of the prints in Series XXII deal with events relating to the French Revolution and date from 1789 to 1792, but images also depict his participation in the American Revolution (1777-1781), his imprisonment at Olmütz (1790s), his Farewell Tour of America (1824-25), his role in French politics (1830), and his death (1834). While most of the prints in Series XXII depict specific events in Lafayette's life, several maps relating to these events are included here as well. Examples include a map of Rhode Island showing the positions of the American and British armies at the siege of Newport on August 29, 1778; diagrams of the seating arrangements at the French Chambres des Deputes for the sessions of 1818-1819, 1821-1822, and 1831; and a map showing Lafayette's itinerary during his 1824-25 tour of America.
The homes of Lafayette in France, Chavaniac and LaGrange, are depicted in the prints of Series XXIII. Chateau Chavaniac, the birthplace of Lafayette in 1757, still stands in the province of Auvergne in south central France. Lafayette's home from 1800 until his death in 1834 was LaGrange, an estate located approximately 50 kilometers southeast of Paris, between the small towns of Courpaley and Rozay-en-Brie. Several of the views of LaGrange in this collection are prints based on paintings by American artist Alvan Fisher (1792-1863). These views were later used as the designs for the transfer-prints on Staffordshire dinnerware created by the English ceramic company of Enoch Wood & Sons. Examples of these Fisher scenes on ceramics are located in the Marquis de Lafayette Memorabilia Collection. Another American artist, Clara Greenleaf Perry (1871-1960), is responsible for a grouping of lithographic images of Lafayette’s homes.