Hyacinthe Rigaud - Encyclopedia

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HYACINTHE RIGAUD (1659-1743), French painter, born at Perpignan on the 20th of July 1659, was the descendant of a line of artists. Having early lost his father, he was sent by his mother to Montpellier, where he studied under Pezet and was helped by Ranc, then to Lyons, and in 1681 to Paris. There, whilst following the regular course of academical instruction, Rigaud produced a great number of portraits so good that Le Brun advised him to give up going to Rome and to devote himself wholly to this class of work. Rigaud, although he had obtained the Grand Prix, followed this advice, and for sixty-two years painted at the rate of thirty to forty portraits a year, all carried through with infinite care by his own hand. His portraits of himself, of the sculptor Desjardins (Louvre), of Mignard and of Le Brun (Louvre) may be cited as triumphs of a still more attractive, if less imposing, character than that displayed in his grand representations of Bossuet (Louvre) and Louis XIV. (Louvre), while his beautiful portraits of his mother, Marie Serre (Louvre), must for ever remain amongst the masterpieces of French art. Rigaud, although the great successes to which he owed his fame were won without exception in portraitpainting, persisted in pressing the Academy to admit him as an historical painter. This delayed his reception, and it was not until January 1700 that he succeeded in obtaining his desire. He presented as his diploma works a St Andrew (Louvre) and the portrait of Desjardins already mentioned, exhibited at the salon of 1704, and filled in turn all the various posts of academical distinction. He died on the 27th of December 1743, having never recovered from the shock of losing his wife in the previous year. He had many pupils, and his numerous works had the good fortune to be reproduced by the greatest of French engravers - Edelinck, Drevet, Wille, Audran and others.

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