Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée a.k.a. l'Aîné (December 30, 1724 – June 19, 1805) was a French painter, a pupil of Carlo Vanloo. His younger brother Jean-Jacques Lagrenée was also a painter.

Lagrenée was born in Paris. In 1755 he became a member of the Royal Academy, presenting as his diploma picture the Rape of Deianira (Louvre). He visited Saint Petersburg at the call of the empress Elizabeth, and on his return was named in 1781 director of the French Academy in Rome, a position he kept until 1787. He there painted the Indian Widow, one of his best-known works.

In 1804 Napoleon conferred on him the cross of the légion d'honneur, and on June 19, 1805 he died in the Louvre, of which he was honorary keeper.

Diderot said of him in the Salon de 1767:

« Mon ami, tu es plein de grâce, tu peins, tu dessines à merveille, mais tu n'as ni imagination, ni esprit ; tu sais étudier la nature, mais tu ignores le cœur humain. Sans l'excellence de ton faire, tu serais au dernier rang. Encore y aurait-il lieu à dire sur ce faire. Il est gras, empâté, séduisant ; mais en sortira-t-il jamais une vérité forte, un effet qui réponde à celui du pinceau de Rubens, de Van Dyck ? »

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