History painter, painter, painter of battle scenes, etcher, commercial artist and draughtsman
As a 'talent pour les batailles', Charles Parrocel was an outsider in the world of French painting of the eighteenth century, which was otherwise largely devoted to sensual pleasures. His obviously inimitable talent for painting horses meant that he was the preferred choice for ostentatious official commissions, for example his early masterpiece 'The Entry of the Turkish Ambassador Mehemet-Effendi into the Tuilleries on 21 March 1721' for Versailles, or for official equestrian portraits of members of the royal house. From the beginning of his long years of study as a 'pensionnaire' in Rome (1712-21), his major sponsor and benefactor was the duke of Antin, who had become Surintendant général des Bâtiments in 1708. He had first been inspired and instructed by his father, Joseph Parrocel, who as a history painter directed his son towards the military genre. The young man's experience of military service, which Ch. Parrocel began in the cavalry in 1705, appears to have been a greater influence. Even afterwards, he devoted himself to the study of battle and hunting scenes. Unlike his predecessor in the seventeenth century, Jacques Callot, who dealt with similar subject matter, Parrocel did not by any means use his art to illustrate the horror, the misery and suffering that took place on the sites of war and battle. Instead, as a distanced observer, he reported on the lives of soldiers, on their everyday experiences and on their engagement in battle.