François-Nicolas Maupérin ( active 1766-1806)
Oil on canvas Paris, Missions Étrangères
In 1787, the visit by Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh, son of the king of Cochinchina (present-day Vietnam), was the most unexpected of the diplomatic meetings in Versailles. He had been sent by his father to obtain military aid from France in order to overcome the rebellion that had toppled him from this throne. Aged only seven, the prince arrived in Versailles with the first mandarin of Cochinchina, who was none other than a French bishop, Monseigneur Pigneaux. The court, and the French people, took the young boy to heart and supported his cause. Léonard, Marie-Antoinette’s hairdresser, even designed a style inspired by and named after him, “the royal prince of Cochinchina,” inspired by the one worn in this portrait.