"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Nicolas de Largillierre

This 1707 self portrait of Nicolas de Largillierre hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Nicolas de Largillière, (baptized Oct. 10, 1656, Paris, France—died March 20, 1746, Paris), French historical and portrait painter who excelled in painting likenesses of the wealthy middle classes. Most artists of his time took as their standard of excellence the adherence to Classical models and an emphasis on drawing, while some broke away in favour of the style of Rubens and an emphasis on colour. Trained in Antwerp and showing great admiration for the Flemish masters, Largillière came to be looked upon as a pioneer by those 18th-century artists who followed the later, more modern course. Highly honoured in his lifetime, he was made chancellor of the Academy in 1743. -- Encyclopedia Britannica
Largillière painted many portraits of himself. A number of these works were replicated, some more than once. In the present portrait, the fifty-year-old artist is seated in his studio. On the stone shelf behind him is a still-life composed of articles commonly found in an artist's studio: a rectangular wooden palette, paint-stained brushes, and an array of plaster, terracotta, or marble sculptures, all but one of which are small in scale. The most prominent is the reduction of the full-length statue of a young male nude commonly called the Antinous (Vatican Museums, Vatican). Largillière had already used the Antinous as a prop in his portraits of Charles Le Brun and Nicolas Coustou. -- Web Gallery of Art. 
The inscription on the plinth is unreadable to me but is said to read: “N D Largillierre / peint par luy mesme 1707".

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