18th century - Portraits
Court life and the development of a rich Parisian bourgeoisie explain the rise of the portrait at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. Good portrait painters acquired riches more easily than historical painters.
The three great painters of aristocratic portraits, Rigaud, Largillière and François de Troy are represented here with major portraits. They were able to produce a great deal of work as their workshops participated in fulfilling commissions. Rigaud and François de Troy were Languedocians (people from SW France) who had succeeded in Paris. Other painters from the same region such as Subleyras, his pupil Rivalz then the latter's pupil, Despax, were excellent portrait painters, working in a more intimate style, as can be seen in their self portraits and portraits of fellow artists.
At the end of the century, the artists close to neoclassicism were often remarkable portrait painters, attentive to the idealised nobility of the individual. With La Baronne de Crussol, Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun painted one of the masterpieces of European portraiture. This homage to the great Flemish and Dutch painting of the Golden Age is a symphony in reds and greys and a swansong for the Ancien Régime (pre-revolutionary France). Marie-Antoinette's personal painter, Vigée-Lebrun was to spend the rest of her life in exile after the Revolution.
Antoine-Jean, baron GROS (Paris, 1771 - Meudon, 1835),
Portrait d'Antoine-Jean Gros à l'âge de vingt ans
Inv. RO 109
Photo : STC - Mairie de Toulouse