Painter, history painter (male), copperplate engraver, commercial artist (male) and etcher
François Perrier was one of the French painters who represented Baroque trends in French art in the first half of the century thanks to long stays in Italy and contact with contemporary developments there. As the son of a goldsmith, Perrier had arrived in Rome around 1625 after an intervening stay in Lyon. His encounter with the Roman-Bolognese painting tradition, especially of the Carracci, his acquaintance with G. Lanfranco, and temporary engagement in his workshop, fostered Perrier's talent for Baroque decorative painting of both religious and secular subjects. It would become his speciality. Around 1630, Perrier returned to France, and after designing a series of paintings on the life of St Bruno for the Carthusians of Lyon, settled in Paris. As an occasional collaborator with S. Vouet, he first worked in the Château de Chilly around 1631-1632, then directed his own atelier, in which the young Charles Le Brun received his initial training. Around 1635 Perrier lived in Rome a second time, during which he apparently studied the neoclassical trends that had grown more pronounced as well as the art of Poussin. Among the indications of this are the numerous classical statues and reliefs that are the main subjects of his substantial number of prints, the first being reproductions modelled on paintings by S. Vouet. After his return to Paris in 1645, Perrier's chief work was the painting of the Galerie dorée in the Hôtel de la Vrillière (Banque de France), now known only in copies. He applied a decorative system that Charles Le Brun would take up again in his Galerie d'Hercule at the Hôtel Lamberg. That he was among the founding members of the Académie Royale speaks for Perrier's public standing. Aside from early texts, the quoted essay by W. Vitzthum and numerous catalogue notes by P. Rosenberg, the lack of a monograph to date makes it hardly possible to determine an assured chronological sequence of his works. Even the older writers, for example Dezallier d'Argenville, divide Perrier's surviving drawings into two categories. One of these consists of sheets with a few large-format figures in red and black crayon, which take up the Bolognese tradition and also exhibit a certain similarity to Vouet's style. The majority, though, are washed pen drawings, some heightened in white, with a very fluid use of line, swift shorthand for faces, and limbs with animated gestures.