Musée No:792.018Regular price £25.00
Artist: Jean-Marc Nattier
Jean-Marc Nattier (1685 – 1766) was a French painter in the Rocco style. He was born in Paris, son a portrait painter and of a miniaturist. In 1703 he enrolled in the Royal Academy and in 1715 he travelled to Amsterdam to paint Tsar Peter the Great and Empress Catherine, but declined an offer to accompany them to Russia. The financial collapse of 1720 all but ruined Nattier, who found himself forced to refocus on the more lucrative option of portraiture.
He became the painter of the beauties of Louis XV's court and revived the genre of the allegorical portrait. His aim was to paint the sitter so that their personality and character come flooding through, there was more frivolity, luxury and softness, the colours brighter. He also included sumptuously rich materials, delicate flowers, curtains etc. His sitters frequently posed as the Goddess Diana, or as Hébé (the Goddess of youth) or as a figure of a Sultan’s harem. He was careful to flatter the beauties, not a single blemish appears on their skin, which given the state of medicine in the 18th century is nothing short of a miracle. He served as official portraitist to the four daughters of Louis XV from 1745, painting those young ladies in innumerable guises and pursuits. His immense success (over 400 works) was due not only to his talent but also to sheer hard work.
Random fact: some two hundred years later, in the 20th century, the term “Nattier Blue” is now used to describe the very distinct shade of greyed cyan blue he used on rich velvet of royal clothing. The reference Nattier’s blue was found on a colour card from Le Corbusier’s (one of the pioneers of modern architecture) estate. The Pantone number is #6FA0BF.
As with the other stunning Nattier portrait in the Musée Collection (Musée N° : 792.020) this is a portrait of an unknown court beauty. She is dressed as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. For many years it was thought to be a portrait of the King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, but now she is thought not to be as she bears little resemblance to other paintings. Over the years scholars have found it incredibly difficult to identify the different women as they are all airbrushed 18th century style into an ideal concept of feminine beauty.
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of hunting, and in later times, the moon, chastity, the countryside and, oddly, crossroads. She is also associated with fertility and nature. In Greek mythology she was called Artemis. According to mythology Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos. Her name Dīāna probably derives from Latin dīus ('godly'), meaning 'divine, heavenly'. Diana has been one of the most popular themes in art used by painters like Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, Nicholas Poussin, ...