Saturday, April 26, 2014

Question: Lapel Decoration

I have not updated in so long! I am a delinquent blogger, I always tell myself I will get better and then I leave long gaps between posts. I think the pressure to post something interesting gets to me, and I end up posting nothing at all because I feel like I don't have anything "good enough" to post!

However, today my curiosity was piqued (again, because I have noticed this detail before) by a painting I found as I was wasting yet another hour on Pinterest. The painting is of Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins, by Ingres. The reason it stood out to me was because of a small detail, a red patch on the subject's lapel. I have seen this in two other paintings, and that is all. What does it mean?! 

Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins, by Ingres
Notice the rather sizable red patch on his left lapel.
I found what must be one of Ingres's sketches for this portrait. Even though this is a black-and-white sketch, you can still see the patch on the Marquet's left lapel. 

Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins, by Ingres
I had noticed, a little while back, two other paintings of gentlemen sporting similar red patches. The first is of Charles Joseph Laurent Cordier, by Ingres (again). 
The second is of Comte (Antoine-Georges-Francois) de Chabaud-Latour and his family, by Jacques-Luc Barbier-Walbonne. 

Portrait of Antoine-Georges-Francois de Chabaud-Latour and his Family
I found an engraving of Chabaud-Latour, in which he does not have the red patch on his lapel, only a medal (with the rosette pinning it to the lapel). 

Antoine-Georges-Francois de Chabaud-Latour

All of the above men are French, and lived during Napoleon's Wars. However, I could only find any information on two:
  • Comte (Antoine-Georges-Francois) de Chabaud-Latour: A member of Napoleon's Army (as far as I could discern from my google.translate of French web pages!), and then a member of the French Senate. 
  • Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins: A politician and writer writer, who wrote a history of Napoleon and various other historical books relevant to the Wars. 

Does anybody know about this bit of sartorial symbolism? I am so curious, and I would like to know what this red patch means before I consider tacking it onto any of the tailcoats I produce. 

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