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Chevalier d'Eon (1728-1810), Diplomatist and transvestite

Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée d'Eon de Beaumont

Sitter in 4 portraits
D'Eon had a successful career as a soldier, diplomat and spy before publicly changing gender. He first came to London in 1763 to negotiate peace for France at the end of the Seven Years War. D'Eon refused to return and blackmailed the French court with his knowledge of secret plans to invade England. Rumours that d'Eon was a woman in disguise, encouraged by d'Eon, spread from 1771 onwards. In 1777 Louis XVI offered d'Eon an income if he henceforth only wore women's clothing, which d'Eon accepted, returning to France. He came back to Britain as a woman in 1785, gaining renown for his fencing demonstrations. No transvestite or transsexual until the late twentieth century has enjoyed such public recognition and acceptance.

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Chevalier d'Eon

by Thomas Stewart, after Jean Laurent Mosnier
oil on canvas, 1792
On display in Room 12 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 6937


Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée d'Eon de Beaumont

after Unknown artist
etching and line engraving, published September 1777
NPG D43329


Chevalier d'Eon

by Thomas Chambers (Chambars), published by Benjamin Beale Evans, after Richard Cosway
stipple engraving, published 12 July 1787 (1787)
NPG D20293


Chevalier d'Eon

by William Daniell, after George Dance
soft-ground etching, published 15 August 1810 (26 May 1793)
NPG D12155