Nicolas de Largillière


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(b Paris, 10 Oct. 1656; d Paris, 20 Mar. 1746).

French painter, mainly of portraits. He spent his youth in Antwerp and from 1675 to 1679 he worked in England, assisting Lely and Verrio. After settling in Paris in 1679 he soon established his position as a leading portraitist, rivalled only by Rigaud, his almost exact contemporary. The two men were friends and seldom in direct competition, for Largillière specialized in portraits of the rich middle classes and Rigaud painted the aristocracy. Largillière's successful career continued into old age: he was director of the Académie Royale (see academy) in his eighties (1734–5 and 1738–42). His output of portraits was prodigious (contemporary sources indicate he painted about 1,500), and he also did religious works (once highly regarded), still lifes, and landscapes. At his best, his paintings are vigorous, forthright, and colourful; at his worst, they are pompous and vacuous.

Subjects: Art.

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