Painter, history painter, decorative painter, decorative artist and college professor
The name Le Moyne is mainly associated with Boucher and Natoire, both of whom he taught. For a long time, relatively little attention was paid to his work and little importance was given to the fact that that he set a certain François Boucher on his artistic path. This reticence on the part of scholarship had to do with a life that was distinguished not so much by success as by personal tragedy. It began hopefully, his study under Louis Galloche crowned with the award of the Academy's Prix de Rome in 1711. However, financial difficulties prevented Le Moyne from travelling to Rome and the most important art centres of Italy. It was only more than ten years later, in 1723/24, that he was able to visit them as a companion to François Berger, a friend of the duke of Antin. His career at the Academy proceeded logically although, owing to his difficult personality, never smoothly with colleagues like the slightly older François de Troy. In the competition of 1727, this came to the surface. He even envied his pupils their success. After being named a professor at the Academy in 1733, even his appointment to 'Premier Peintre du Roi' in 1736 did not prevent the embittered and probably deranged artist from putting an end to his life. His experience of Venice and its art as well as the chance to study Venetian painting in the collection of Pierre Crozat, as well as a sympathy with the artistic idiom of Rubens, shaped Le Moyne's own style. This is as obvious in his concept of the female nude as in his depiction of landscape. Le Moyne failed to create true monuments in French painting of the eighteenth century, even though his ceiling paintings, especially his masterpiece 'L'apothéose d'Hercule' (Versailles) seemed to impress not only contemporaries as a successful demonstration of the illusionistic opening of the vaulting. In the tradition of the classical Academy, Le Moyne continued to think of study of the nude as the starting point for his monumental decorative painting, even though he was neither unaware nor unappreciative of Watteau's artistic paths - especially his rendering of figures.