OLLIVIER, Michel-Barthélémy
(b. 1712, Marseille, d. 1784, Paris)


French painter. He served his apprenticeship with Carle Van Loo before going to Spain in 1734 with van Loo's nephew, Louis-Michel, who was appointed court painter to King Philip V that year. Ollivier returned to France in 1763 and joined the Académie de St Luc, Paris, where he exhibited a portrait of his wife in 1764. In 1766 he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, and he became the official painter of Louis François I, Prince of Conti (1716-76). His four major surviving works were executed for this new patron: Afternoon Tea at the Temple; and Feast Given to the Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg at l'Isle-Adam in 1766, Stag Caught in the Water in front of the Château of l'Isle-Adam and Supper of the Prince of Conti (all Versailles, Château). The first three of these pictures were shown at the Salon of 1777, as was Telemachus and Mentor (untraced).

In 1769 and 1771 he showed two versions of the Death of Cleopatra; in 1767 he exhibited a Massacre of the Innocents; and to the Salon de la Correspondance of 1782 he submitted a picture of Henri IV and the Duke of Sully (all untraced). Apart from these history paintings, Ollivier regularly exhibited portraits and attractive, finely coloured conversations espagnoles - exotic, two-figure genre pieces. The main features of his style are his felicitous and effective choice of warm colour harmonies and his meticulous and delicate brushwork.