(1729–65). French painter. In his short lifetime he became the most celebrated painter of large-scale religious and mythological scenes in mid-18th-century France, hailed by Diderot as ‘the first painter of the nation’. He trained with Boucher (who became his father-in-law) and with Carle van Loo before going to the French Academy in Rome. During his time there (1754–58) he was greatly influenced by the ‘Grand Manner’ of Raphael and the Bolognese painters of the 17th century. Such altarpieces as The Flagellation of S. Andrew (Rouen, Mus. des Beaux-Arts), shown at the 1761 Salon, are magnificent within the terms of their genre even if not very appealing to modern taste. They exerted a considerable influence on David's early history paintings. Deshays also occasionally painted pastoral scenes in the manner of the Genoese painter Castiglione.
From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.