Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743)
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Nicolas Lancret was a Classical, Rococo style painter of lighthearted French lifestyles with country landscape backdrops. Born in Paris, he was initially trained as an engraver, but took an interest in painting when he became apprenticed to a historical painter. His early academic training was at the Academie Royale in 1708; however, he did not complete his studies there because he was expelled for bad behavior. After apprenticing with Claude Gillot, Lancret was again accepted to the Academie Royale in 1719, and found great success as a painter the second time around.
As a student under Gillot, Lancret learned the style of painting the “fete galante”. He met with much commercial success by depicting French social elite engaged in frivolity and fun, hence the “fete” or “party” theme to a number of his paintings. Even though he adopted this technique from his instructors, Lancret chose a color palate of his own, warm in yellows and reds, which set him apart.
Lancret’s style became so popular amongst the aristocracy that in his lifetime, his works were purchased by Louis XV and hung in the corridors of Versailles. His scenes of courtly amusement were certainly pleasing to royalty and aristocracy in his time.
Lancret was among all things an immensely prolific painter, creating over 700 paintings in his lifetime, as well as etchings and sketches. Many of these paintings featured a light comedy, that wasn’t so much mocking society as it was a reflection of the mannerisms of the time.
However prolific he may have been, Lancret rarely painted anything above or beyond his typical lighthearted pieces. Rarely did he paint portraits, landscapes or still life, however he did occasionally try his hand at historical or mythological compositions.
Today, Lancret’s work is housed all over Europe, in the National Gallery in London and in the Louvre in Paris. Still wondering about a Louis XV-era French painting hanging in your home or estate? It could be by Nicolas Lancret. Contact us to find out.