Taste and Trade: The Drinking Portraits of Alexis Grimou
The Art Bulletin
Taylor & Francis (Routledge) / College Art Association
Reason for embargo
This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Taylor & Francis
This essay revises Alexis Grimou’s posthumous reputation as a drunkard through close engagement with his portraits and fantasy figures of drinkers. The artist projects refined sociability in his self-portraits as a drinker and as Bacchus. Working for an elite clientele, the so-called ‘French Rembrandt’ transformed the crude or moralistic tropes of Netherlandish painting into articulations of the emerging concept of aesthetic taste. Commercial awareness, underpinned by Grimou’s actual links with the drinks trade, is evident in subtle visual promotion strategies. Finally, in Grimou’s portrait of the marquis d’Artaguiette, wine is both a symbol of success in metropolitan France and a contested substance in the colony of Louisiana.