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Nicolas Lancret

Painter, history painter, genre painter and commercial artist

Born
1690 in Paris
Died
1743 in Paris

8 Works by Nicolas Lancret

Biography

At an early date, in 1703, his plan of becoming a die-cutter led Lancret to train as a draughtsman. Afterwards he became a pupil of Pierre Dulin, a rather unimportant history painter at the Academy. Lancret took on his true artistic impression during a further apprenticeship under Claude Gillot (ca. 1712/13), and with his admiring imitation of Watteau, which went so far as to cause resentment on the part of the older painter. In 1719, two years after Watteau, Lancret was accepted into the Paris Academy as 'Peintre de fêtes galantes' - proof that his pictorial genre was now officially accepted. Aside from bearing the title of a 'conseiller' in 1735, Lancret held no official office within the institution. Art historians have repeatedly emphasised his connection to Watteau, so that Lancret's personal style has been thrust into the background. His fêtes galantes never have the abstraction of the ideal worlds created by Watteau. Nor do they have his subtle yet profound emotionalism, but rather more temperament and coquettishness. Accordingly, Lancret's paintings present scenes of a seemingly authentic nature, vividly described, that in terms of iconography belong to a great extent to the realm of traditional genre painting. The same is true of Lancret's drawings, which are frequently found - as in our collection - under the name of Watteau. Like Watteau, Lancret is said to have been tireless in drawing from nature, though with the distinction that he tended to incorporate his studies into his pictures, so that his painting was more a reproduction than a translation of them. The draughtsman Lancret always worked with crayons, often a red crayon or the three-crayon combination. His use of line is relatively forceful, even energetic, with a certain tendency to be pursued for its own sake. It appears better suited to the rendering of surfaces than inner structure and subtle emotions. For all his skill at draughtsmanly description, a certain indistinctness is created, a 'vaguezza' that is not truly suggestive. As compared to Watteau's drawn figures, Lancret's do not have the same degree of timelessness, but rather a vitality arising from the moment.

Persons connected to Nicolas Lancret