The National Portrait Gallery announced that it will acquire what is believed to be the first portrait of a cross-dressing man, the legendary spy, diplomat and transvestite Chevalier D’Eon, The Guardian reports.
The portrait, which had been lost since 1926, and was rediscovered in a New York salesroom by British art dealer Philip Mould last year, was exhibited in April, at which point it was reportedly already under consideration by the National Portrait Gallery.
When Mr. Mould purchased the painting, which was attributed to Gilbert Stuart, at an antique paintings auction at Thos. Cornell Galleries in New York, last November, it was believed to be the portrait of a hefty lady. The work even bore the title Portrait of a Woman with a Feather in her Hat.
But after further research and restoration, it was revealed that it wasn’t a lady at all—but a man dressed like one, and a celebrated one at that. Chevalier D’Éon, the revered “Patron Saint of Transvestites” as he has come to be known, is the source of the term “eonism,” which according to dictionary.com is “the adoption of feminine mannerisms, clothing, etc., by a male.”