Louis-Leopold Boilly

France / 1761 - 1845 / wikipedia
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Louis-Léopold Boilly (French: [bwɑji]; 5 July 1761-4 Jan. 1845); French painter and draftsman. A gifted creator of popular portrait paintings, he also produced a vast number of genre paintings vividly documenting French middle-class social life. His life and work spanned the eras of monarchical France, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire, the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy.

Born in La Bassée in northern France, the son of a local wood sculptor. A self-taught painter, Boilly began his career at a very young age, producing his first works at the age of 12 or 13. In 1774 he began to show his work to the Austin friars of Douai who were evidently impressed: within 3 years, the bishop of Arras invited the young man to work and study in his bishopric. While there, he produced a cascade of paintings – some 300 small works of portraiture. He received instruction in trompe l'oeil painting from Dominique Doncre (1743–1820) before moving to Paris around 1787.

Boilly's early works showed a preference for amorous and moralising subjects. The Suitor's Gift is comparable to much of his work in the 1790s. His small-scale paintings with carefully mannered colouring and precise detailing recalled the work of 17th-century Dutch genre painters such as Gabriël Metsu (1629–1667), Willem van Mieris and Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681), of whose work Boilly owned an important collection. After 1794, Boilly began to produce far more crowded compositions that serve as social chronicles. Boilly was also well respected for his portraiture, producing many portraits of the middle classes and other famous contemporaries.

Boilly remains a highly regarded master of oil painting. A major exhibition of his work, The Art of Louis-Léopold Boilly: Modern Life in Napoleonic France, travelled to the United States where it was shown at both the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC (1995)
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis-L%C3%A9opold_Boilly)
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Suzan Hamer

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