Like Jacques Onésime de Bergeret, Lalive de Jully (1725-79) was an influential collector, amateur, and painter in the Parisian art world of the 1750s and 1760s. One of Jean-Baptiste Greuze's first patrons, Lalive is depicted seated on a chair he had commissioned as part of a suite of furniture à la grecque. This furniture subtly reveals Lalive's avant-garde taste in rejecting the curvilinear forms of the rococo in favor of rectilinear shapes and archaeological decor before the full flowering of the neoclassical style.
Greuze placed Lalive in the center of the canvas; his torso twists toward the harp, as his head, shown in three-quarter pose, turns to the viewer. He is casually attired in a white silk dressing gown, a scarf around his neck, and his britches unbuttoned at the knees. The captivating expression, a faint smile and slightly raised eyebrows, further enhances the contrived informality of the portrait. The emphasis on the face and hands counterbalances the rigid series of parallel vertical lines that define the space.
The prominent display of the harp, accompanied by the furniture with the portfolio of drawings and statue of the Erythrean Sibyl in the background, suggests that Greuze has depicted Lalive as a new Apollo, alluding to his patronage of the arts.
The sitter, Ange Laurent de La Live de Jully [1725-1779], Paris, probably 1759; probably by inheritance to his second daughter, Louise de La Live, comtesse de Fezensac [d. 1829 or 1832]; by inheritance to her son, Raymond Aimery de Montesquiou, duc de Montesquiou-Fezensac [1784-1867]; by inheritance to his daughter, Oriane Henriette de Montesquiou, vicomtesse [Charles] de Goyon [d. 1887], by 1874 until at least 1885; Alexandre Léon Joseph, comte de Laborde [b. 1853, a descendant of the sitter's brother-in-law], Paris, by 1927; purchased January 1937 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris); sold 1942 to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1946 to NGA.
- Salon of 1759, Paris, no. 108.
- Exposition des ouvrages de peinture au profit de la colonisation de l'Algérie par les Alsaciens-Lorrains, Palais de la Présidence du Corps Legislatif, Paris, 1874, no. 207.
- Exposition Universelle. Portraits nationaux du XVIIIe siècle, Palais du Trocadéro, Paris, 1878, no. 701, repro.
- Exposition de tableaux, statues et objects d'art au profit de l'oeuvre des orphelins d'Alsace-Lorraine, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1885, no. 242.
- Les grands salons littéraires, Musée Carnavalet, Paris, 1927, no. 173, repro.
- Possibly Exposition de l'art Français, Société des Amateurs d'Art, Paris, 1931, no. 193 (according to the Duveen Brothers prospectus, but unconfirmed).
- Exposition de l'art français au XVIIIe siècle, Palais de Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, 1935, no. 86.
- Five Centuries of History Mirrored in Five Centuries of French Art, Pavillon de la France, World's Fair, New York, 1939-1940, no. 227.
- Recent Additions to the Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1946, no. 773.
- Jean-Baptiste Greuze 1725-1805, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, 1976-1977, no. 22, repro. (shown only in Hartford).
- A Magic Mirror: The Portrait in France 1700-1900, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1986-1987, no. 12, repro.
- L'Antiquité rêvée. Innovations et résistances au XVIIIe siècle [Antiquity Revived. Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century], Musée du Louvre, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2010-2011, no. 44 (French cat.), no. 28 (English cat.), repros.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 118, color repro.
- Frankfurter, Alfred M. The Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1944: 78, repro. no. 79
- "Kress Makes Important Donation of French Painting to the Nation." Art Digest 18, no. 19 (1 August 1944): 5, repro.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 167, repro.
- Wildenstein and Company. French XVIII Century Paintings. New York, 1948: 4
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): 34, 36, 38, pl. 86.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 361, repro.
- Eriksen, Svend. "Lalive de Jully's Furniture 'à la grecque.'" The Burlington Magazine 103 (1961): 340+ repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 317, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 63.
- Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:316, color repro.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 55, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 164, repro.
- Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 325-328, fig. 289.
- Pope-Hennessy, John. "Completing the Account." Review of Colin Eisler, Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, London 1977. Times Literary Supplement no. 3,927 (17 June 1977).
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 338, no. 452, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 189, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 172, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 256-257, no. 208, color repro.
- The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. A Centennial Celebration of Wildenstein's Presence in New York. Exh. cat. Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, 2005: 224-226, fig. 85a (not in the exhibition).
- Conisbee, Philip, et al. French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2009: no. 54, 247-252, color repro.