MAYFAIR historic portraits dealer and more
recently television personality Philip Mould has ‘outed’ the earliest surviving
portrait of a male transvetite.
Apart from dealing from his Dover Street
gallery Philip has made a name for himself as an art sleuth with some
interesting books and watchable television series on the theme.
This latest find was uncovered at a New York
saleroom where one glance at the 18th century formal portrait of a
rather manly middle-aged lady aroused his sleuthing instincts.
He says “Upon cleaning the face revealed a
distinctive 5 o’clock shadow” and further research revealed the woman was, in
fact, the colourful French 18th century spy, diplomat, fencer and transvestite
Chevalier D’ Eon.
Almost certainly commissioned by the 18th
century Irish soldier and patron of the arts the Earl of Moira the portrait of
the man labelled the “Patron Saint of Transvestites” has been lost since 1926.
Eon is currently under consideration by the National Portrait Gallery where it
would become the gallery’s first painting of a cross-dresser in full drag.