(1725–1802). French portrait painter. Born in Carpentras, he went to Rome in 1745. There he studied under Subleyras, whose skills at rendering both character and clothing in portraits he absorbed. After difficult beginnings in Paris his career was launched by the opportunity to paint the first official portrait of Louis XVI in 1775 (Versailles). From then on he was much in demand in the fashionable world. In the years leading up to the French Revolution he painted many of his foremost contemporaries, including Benjamin Franklin (numerous versions) and the composer Willibald Gluck (1775; Vienna, Kunsthist. Mus.). At their best his portraits are lively and insightful in characterization and display an attractive sense of colour harmony.
From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.