Painter, draughtsman, etcher, commercial artist, illustrator, engraver, college professor and academy director
Closely related in style to his teacher, Charles-Joseph Natoire, Pierre remained committed to a formal canon of academic decorative painting that gradually began to grow stale. Neither an extended stay on scholarship in Rome from 1734 to 1740 nor recognition by the Academy in Paris, where he was named a professor in 1748, stimulated his artistic independence.
The personal favour of Madame de Pompadour and her brother, the Marquis de Marigny, helped Pierre to have a part in important decorative assignments in the Palais Royal and at Fontainebleau. There were also commissions for the cupola fresco in the Mary Chapel at the church of Saint Roch and in 1768 for a ceiling painting in the palace at St Cloud. His career peaked in 1770, after the death of Boucher, when he was named 'Premier Peintre du Roi', and in that same year director of the Academy. Thus Pierre had attained all the honours and offices available to a painter all at once, at a point where his art, owing to the new demands and expectations imposed on painting, had already to a certain extent become outdated. This helps to explain why he devoted the last twenty years of his life exclusively to administrative tasks.