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Carle van Loo

Painter, history painter (male), engraver (male), rector and academy director

1705 in Nice
1765 in Paris

2 Works by Carle van Loo


Carle André van Loo is the best-known member of the great artist family of Flemish origin. Born in Nice, he received his first training from his considerably older brother, Jean-Baptiste, who early on took him along to Italy, mainly Turin, Genoa and Rome. With this experience behind him, Carle André began his studies at the Paris Academy, which he successfully completed as was expected with the award of the Rome Prize in 1724. He set out for Italy in 1728. His six-year stay there led him to Rome and Naples, but also once again to Turin, where he produced decorative paintings in the palace and the country palaces nearby. After his return to Paris, his career developed resolutely: in 1737 he became a professor, in 1763 director of the Academy, and in 1749 he was put in charge of the école des Elèves protégés, founded the year before. Then in 1762 he was named 'Premier Peintre du Roi'. In contrast to his contemporary F. Boucher, van Loo has now been somewhat forgotten. However, his ponderous compositions, characterised less by spirit and formal elegance than by correct design and clearly detailed content, were highly regarded by his contemporaries. This admiration, grounded in the variety of his subject matter and mastery of his craft, as well as in the absence of true competitors, peaked in the praise expressed by Diderot, who celebrated the 'Premier Peintre du Roi' as the 'Premier Peintre de la Nation'. Van Loo's drawings were met with unlimited enthusiasm at an early date. Even during his lifetime, his first biographer, Dandré-Bardon, emphasised his effortless, sovereign handling of the medium, which given his preferred crayon technique generally resulted in an overall consistency. To this day his drawings clearly hold their own against his painterly oeuvre.

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