Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Illustrious Career of Jean-Baptiste van Loo

Jean-Baptiste van Loo (Aix-en-Provence, France, 14th January 1684 – Aix-en-Provence, France, 19th December 1745)

Self Portrait by Jean-Baptiste van Loo
Self Portrait

We welcome our second van Loo today in the estimable form of Jean-Baptiste. Like his son he was a noted painter and virtually artistic royalty, enjoying a long and illustrious career that spanned the continent of Europe and England too.


Margaret ('Peg') Woffington by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1738
Margaret ('Peg') Woffington by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1738

As the son of Louis-Abraham van Loo and grandson of Jacob van Loo, the young man could not have asked for a better education in art. He showed a natural aptitude for the subject and in his early twenties wealthy patrons paid for van Loo to undertake a trip to Rome, where he entered the tutelage of the celebrated Benedetto Luti and mastered his skills. He travelled Italy producing religious paintings and upon his visit to Turin became immensely popular at the court of Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy, for whom he executed several works.


Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1740
Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1740

Riding high on his Italian successes, the celebrated van Loo returned home to France and took up residence in Paris where he became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. However, not content to rest on these considerable triumphs in 1737 he took up his travels again, visiting London to paint any number of illustrious clients including Walpole and members of the royal court. Van Loo was noted for the accuracy of his likenesses yet he did not believe in flattering his subjects, presenting sitters as they truly were, not as fashion might wish them to be.


Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, Prime Minister by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1740
Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, Prime Minister by Jean-Baptiste van Loo, 1740

His health in decline, van Loo moved back to Paris just five years later with his wife, Marguerite Le Brun. He did not settle in the capital though and instead returned to his hometown, where he died peacefully in 1745.

2 comments:

  1. May we call Mrs Woffington theatrical"royalty",Madame? Her performances have certainly been"regal"?

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