Open main menu

Jean-Joseph, marquis de Laborde (29 January 1724 – 18 April 1794) was a French businessman, fermier général and banker to the king, who turned politician. A liberal, he was guillotined in the French Revolution.[1]

Jean-Joseph de Laborde
Late-1700s portrait of Laborde
Born29 January 1724 (1724-01-29)
near Jaca in Aragon
Died18 April 1794 (1794-04-19) (aged 70)
OccupationFrench politician



Laborde was born near Jaca in Aragon, into a modest béarnaise family.[2] When he reached adolescence he joined his uncle, who was head of a maritime import–export company at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and took over as head of the business on the cousin's death. He based his subsequent fortune not only on this company, but also on transatlantic trade (supplying the American colonies with basics, in return for far more financially interesting products such as tropical fruits, rare trees and slaves) and his sugar plantations on Saint-Domingue (Haïti).

His rapid rise, comparable to that of several bourgeois men of the age of Enlightenment, gained him promotion to noble rank and allowed him to acquire several estates. He became fermier général (1759–1767) on the suggestion of his friend the duc de Choiseul. He took up residence in the château de La Ferté-Vidame in 1764, the fief bringing with it the ancient title of Vidame de Chartres. He rebuilt it in the neoclassical style which now remains as a shell, and commissioned several artists. However, following a game of musical chairs, he lost it in 1784 to the duc de Penthièvre, who had himself lost his domaine de Rambouillet to king Louis XV, who coveted its "terres giboyeuses" or wooded hunting lands. Laborde was named marquis and in 1784 acquired the Château de Méréville, rebuilding it to his taste.

In politics, he was ahead of his time and of the French Revolution, and (with Mirabeau) was one of the only noble députés (from the bailliage d'Étampes) to accept demotion to the Third Estate upon the Revolution. However, this was not enough to save him from being guillotined in Paris under the "loi des suspects" on the orders of Louis de Saint-Just, in one of the last fits of the Reign of Terror in May 1794. In 1792 much of the fabulous Orleans Collection of paintings was briefly his, before he was forced by events to abandon his ambition to exhibit them in his Paris house, and sold them.

The ruins of the Château de la Ferté-Vidame in 2005



  1. ^ Formel, François (1990), "Diner de Tetes a La Ferte-Vidame: Le mari d’une impératrice chez le banquier du Roi", extracted from the Bulletin Municipal de La Ferté-Vidame (1989–1990, p. 38-50), in French; Bardet, Jean-Pierre (ed), Etat et société en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles: Mélanges offerts à Yves Durand, 181–184, 2000, Presses Paris Sorbonne, ISBN 2840501511, 9782840501510, google books
  2. ^ His father carried mullet and smuggled Spanish piastres on his back over the Pyrénées - M. Bruguière L'aristocratique descendance des affairistes de la Révolution p 106.
  3. ^ Dunmore, John (1994). The Journal of Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse, 1785-1788, Vol. 1. London: The Hakluyt Society. p. lxxiii. ISBN 0904180387.
  4. ^ Dunmore, John (1994). The Journal of Jean-François de Galaup de la Pérouse, 1785-1788, Vol. 1. London: The Hakluyt Society. p. lxxii. ISBN 0904180387.


  • Boyer, Ferdinand (1954). "Jean Joseph de Laborde, protecteur de F.X. Fabre et sa collection confisquée en 1794". Bulletin de la société d'histoire de l'art français.
  • Bronne, Carlo (1968–69). "Un couple brillant, les Laborde". La Revue de Paris. Paris.
  • Delmas, Jean-François (1988–1989). Le Mécénat des financiers au XVIIIe siècle. Les collections de peinture de Jean-Joseph, marquis de Laborde. Paris,: Paris-Sorbonne.
  • Durand, Yves (1968–69). "Mémoires de Jean Joseph de Laborde, banquier de la cour et fermier général". Bulletin de la société d'histoire de France.
  • Dussau, A.J. "Jean Joseph Laborde, négociant bourgeois bayonnais, banquier du roy, victime de la Terreur". Bulletin de la société des sciences, lettres et arts de Bayonne, 1967.
  • Thomas, Jean-Pierre (2002). Jean-Joseph de La Borde : banquier de Louis XV, mécène des Lumières. Paris: Perrin.

Further readingEdit

  • "Hubert Robert at Méréville", in Consumption Of Culture, eds. Ann Bermingham, John Brewer, 2013, Routledge, ISBN 1134808402, 9781134808403, google books

External linksEdit