by Hyacinthe Rigaud
This person is associated with: Classicism
French portrait painter.
He won the Prix de Rome in 1682 for his Cain building the town of Henoch. Charles Le Brun advised him to stay in France to specialize in portraiture, which was in higher demand than history painting.
Indeed, Rigaud is especially well known for his portraits of the French kings and high nobility. He was the first French portrait painter to make a very realistic picture of the sitter, whereas portraits were idealized by earlier artists. This new style brought him immense success. Every man of importance had to have his portrait done by Rigaud to prove his rank; all the ambassadors and some foreign princes also came to his workshop.
He was appointed academician on 2 January 1700, but only sent his reception piece in 1740, 40 years after his admission! He had a very successful academic career, becoming adjunct professor on 24 July 1702, then professor on 27 September 1710, adjunct rector in 1733 (between January 10 and May 30) and finally rector on 28 November 1733. On this date, four rectors were in charge simultaneously and took turns each trimester to hold the Presidency of the Academy, so Rigaud shared the position with Largillière, Coustou and Hallé. He nevertheless resigned from all his positions on 5 February 1735, and this ruling system was abandoned at this time.
A prolific artist, he produced more than a thousand works. It is nevertheless difficult to know to which extent these paintings are from his hand, as his numerous assistants helped him a lot to paint copies, especially for Royal commissions; Rigaud sometimes only painted the face and hands.
The museum of Pergignan (his birthplace) holds a good collection of his works.