Jean-Antoine Julien


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(1736–99). Swiss painter active in France and Italy. He earned his living as an itinerant portrait painter before arriving in Paris in 1756 to seek his fortune. Not finding it there, he decided to go to Italy to perfect his style as a history painter. In Rome he met the French chief minister of the duchy of Parma, who appointed him court painter. In return for his stipend Julien had to deliver annually a painting to the Duke of Parma. Despite the fact that he henceforth styled himself ‘Julien de Parme’ he never visited the duchy. Typical of his output on almost exclusively mythological themes are Thetis Bringing Armour to Achilles (1766; Florence, Pitti) and Diana and Endymion (1779; Madrid, Prado). Idiosyncratically classicizing in style they demonstrate the strong influence of Domenichino on Julien's painting. From 1771 he was again in Paris, where this time he enjoyed the protection of a number of powerful patrons, but remained outside the Académie Royale (See under Paris) and never achieved the recognition that he felt was his due. The publication in 1984 of 50 of his letters dating between 1768 and 1781 throws interesting light on the art world of his time.

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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