PARROCEL, Charles
(b. 1688, Paris, d. 1752, Paris)

Biography

French painter, part of a family of painters, son of Joseph Parrocel. He studied at first with his father and, after the latter's death, with his godfather Charles de La Fosse and with Bon Boullogne. He apparently enlisted in the cavalry c. 1706, but by 1709 he was competing, without success, for the Prix de Rome. In 1712 he moved to Rome where he was a pensionnaire at the Académie de France from 1713 to 1716. He travelled in Italy, visited Malta and settled in Venice for four years.

He returned to Paris in 1721 and at once executed two paintings for Louis XV depicting the visit to France of the Turkish ambassador Mehemet Effendi (Versailles, Château); these were later reproduced in the form of tapestries at the Gobelins manufactory. In the same year he was received (reçu) as a member of the Académie Royale, Paris. He executed a number of equestrian portraits, including that of Louis XV (1724; Versailles, Château), but with the faces of the sitters executed by other artists (Jean-Baptiste van Loo in the case of Louis XV). Like his father, however, he was principally a painter of battles and hunts.

In 1736-38 he executed for the Petits Appartements at the château of Versailles an Elephant Hunt and a Wild Bull Hunt (Amiens, Musée Picardie). The Musée Carnavalet, Paris, preserves one of his most remarkable drawings, 39 m long, representing the procession celebrating the proclamation in 1739 of the second Peace of Vienna, which marked the end of the War of the Polish Succession. Parrocel took part in the 1737, 1738, 1745 and 1746 Salons, and he rose through the academic hierarchy to become a professor in 1745.

During the War of the Austrian Succession he was present at several battles, including Fontenoy (11 May 1745) and Lawfeld (2 July 1747); from his sketches for a series of ten battle pictures intended for the gallery in the château of Choisy, however, he was prevented by ill-health from executing more than two (both Versailles, Château), and even the second was completed by Pierre L'Enfant. Charles was also an engraver and executed 18 plates for François de La Guériniere's École de cavalerie (Paris, 1733), as well as various other military subjects.

His style is more realistic than that of his father and his drawing more precise, but his colouring is relatively lifeless; his contemporaries noted that the principal quality of his work was verisimilitude. His pupils included two painters of battle scenes, Philibert-Benoît Delarue (1718-1780) and Pierre L'Enfant (1704-1787).