- Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Maurice Quentin de La Tour (September 5, 1704 – February 17, 1788) was a French Rococo portraitist who worked primarily with pastels. Among his most famous subjects were Voltaire, Rousseau, Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour.
He was born in Saint-Quentin, Aisne, the son of a musician who disapproved of his taking up painting. At the age of fifteen La Tour went to Paris, where he entered the studio of the Flemish painter Jacques Spoede. He then went to Rheims in 1724 and to England in 1725, returning to Paris to resume his studies around 1727. After his return to Paris, he began working with pastels.
In 1737 La Tour exhibited the first of a splendid series of 150 portraits that served as one of the glories of the Paris Salon for the next 37 years. Endowing his sitters with a distinctive charm and intelligence, he excelled at capturing the delicate play of their features.
In 1746 La Tour was received into the Académie de peinture et de sculpture and in 1751 was promoted to councillor. He was made portraitist to the king in 1750 and held this position until 1773, when he suffered a nervous breakdown. For a time the painter Joseph Ducreux was his only student. La Tour founded an art school and became a philanthropist before being confined to his home because of mental illness. He retired at the age of 80 to Saint-Quentin and died at the age of 83.
- "Maurice Quentin de La Tour." (1994) Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed. London: Cambridge University Press.
- Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, online edition
- Brief biography and selected list of pastel portraits (in French)
- An interactive tour of his work
- a interactive multimedia module about the Portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour in the Website of the musée du Louvre
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