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Work Hunt Breakfast
Department of Paintings: French painting
© 2005 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Like its now lost companion piece, Death of a Stag, this presentation of the good life in high society was painted for the dining room in the King's private apartment at Fontainebleau, where it was hung with Charles André Vanloo's Halt during a Hunt and Charles Parrocel's Halt of the King's Mounted Grenadiers, both now in the Louvre
The hunt as pretext
Hunt Breakfast was painted in 1837 for the main dining room in Louis XV's suite at Fontainebleau. This lightweight example of the history painter's art points up the change of taste in interior decoration that came with the Regency, with pastoral and the hunt replacing the mythological imagery of the past.
The royal hunt had already made its appearance in such works as Bernard Van Orley's Hunts of Maximilian, but with the emphasis on the hunt itself. Here we see the pause, pretext for an outdoor meal in which action is supplanted by the pleasures of the table, flirtation and amorous plotting.
A master of all genres
Son of the portraitist François de Troy, the artist set out to become the leading painter of his generation. Although he ultimately fell victim to Neoclassical reaction, he remains one of the 18th century's great history painters and had a considerable influence on the young Joseph-Marie Vien.
Born in Paris in 1679, Jean-François de Troy studied with his father before spending the years 1699-1706 in Italy. Returning as an admirer of Veronese and Titian, he was admitted to the Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a history painter.
While the creator of such large religious works as Christ before Pilate, also in the Louvre, he excelled in all the genres - lovers' trysts, portrayals of fashion, mythology, portraits - while drawing on a visual repertoire that was often a pretext for showing the female nude. He contributed to the decoration of the royal apartments, one example being this Hunt Breakfast, created for the palace at Fontainebleau. Deeply disappointed at not receiving major commissions, de Troy painted seven tapestry cartoons for the royal Gobelins manufactory. His Story of Esther series enjoyed great success and was woven several times in the course of the 18th century.
Last years in Rome
Appointed director of the French Academy in Rome, de Troy moved there in 1738 and designed a new series of tapestry cartoons. However, his Story of Jason and Medea was badly received at the 1748 Salon and, falling from favor, he was replaced at the Academy by Charles-Joseph Natoire. He stayed on in Rome, where he died in 1752.
Jean-François de TroyParis, 1679 - Rome, 1752
Oil on canvas
H. 2.4 m ; L. 1.69 m
Purchased by payment in kind (1977)
The painters of Louis XV
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