Baroque and Beyond C. 1600–1850

Rococo and the Eighteenth Century

Who were some of the major portrait painters of the eighteenth century?

  • Rosalba Carriera (1675–1757)—A leading portrait painter in Venice known for her early miniatures and use of pastels. During a trip to Paris she made a pastel portrait of King Louis XV. She was accepted to the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome, as well as the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.
  • Frangois Boucher (1703–1770)— French Rococo painter whose fashionable paintings of mythological and amorous scenes exhibited graceful style and shimmering colors. He was known for his stylish portraits of wealthy clients, including Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV.
  • Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792)— English painter who studied in Rome and is known for his neoclassical style and monumental, full-size portraits that effectively capture the essence of the sitter. Extremely well regarded, Reynolds was sophisticated in his approach to art theory.
  • Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788)—Highly honored, English portrait painter who also painted landscapes. A rival of Reynolds, his work is infused with elegance and elements of nature. His work is sometimes considered to exhibit Romantic tendencies. His delicate brushwork is evident in his portrait of Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1785).
  • Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun (1755–1842)—Perhaps the most important female painter in the eighteenth century. She painted many portraits of Marie Antoinette and the French royal family while working in the Palace of Versailles. Her work strongly reflects the rococo aesthetic.
  • John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)—A resident of the colonial city of Boston and of Irish descent. He painted portraits of famous early Americans, including Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, though in 1774 he expatriated to England at the behest of Joshua Reynolds and fellow expatriate artist Benjamin West.
  • Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828)—Leading American portrait painter, still famous for his portrait of George Washington. He also completed portraits of other significant American leaders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. His style greatly influenced other American painters of the day.

Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun was an eighteenth-century female painter. She worked for a number of years at the Palace of Versailles where she painted portraits of Marie Antoinette and her children.


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