Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Paris 1686 - 1755 Beauvais
Jean-Baptiste Oudry was the most brilliant animal painter of the French eighteenth century, whose painstaking yet seemingly effortless rendering of rich textures, subtle colours, and dramatic light effects marry nature and artifice in some of the most breathtaking achievements of the Rococo. Although Oudry first trained as a portraitist with Nicolas de Largillière, he soon turned his energies to still life painting. Over the course of the 1720s his still lifes of game, hunting scenes, and portraits of animals attracted an enthusiastic following, challenging the primacy of Alexandre-François Desportes, who had since the early part of the century been the leading exponent of the genre. Royal commissions followed, and Oudry soon reigned supreme as France’s foremost animalier. In 1733 he was commissioned by Louis XV to design a series of nine hunting tapestries to be made at the Gobelins manufactory, of which he was appointed inspector in 1748. In 1734, Oudry was appointed director of the royal tapestry manufactory at Beauvais, designing a number of popular series, including The Fables of La Fontaine (1736), related to the 277 illustrations Oudry did for a four-volume edition of the tales. In addition to the king of France, Oudry counted among his patrons the Margrave of Ansbach, Grand Duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and Sweden’s ambassador to the court of France, Count Carl Gustaf Tessin, for whom he executed still lifes, game pieces, hunt scenes, depictions of exotic animals, and rural landscapes.