SILVESTRE, Louis de
(b. 1675, Sceaux, d. 1760, Paris)

Biography

Louis de Silvestre was the son of Israël Silvestre. He was first apprenticed to his father, going on to study under Charles Le Brun and then Bon Boullogne. In 1694 he competed unsuccessfully for the Prix de Rome but left nevertheless for Italy. In Rome he met Carlo Maratti; he also visited Venice and Piedmont.

On his return to Paris he was received (reçu) in 1702 into the Académie Royale, presenting the Creation of Man by Prometheus (Montpellier, Musée Fabre). He embarked on a successful career, earning academic honours (he was appointed an assistant professor in 1704 and a full professor in 1706) and commissions from both the Church and the court. In 1703 he was commissioned by the guild of Paris goldsmiths to execute the May of Notre-Dame (Healing of the Sick, Arras, Musée des Beaux-Arts). In 1709 he painted a Last Supper for the chapel at Versailles (in situ). This was followed by nine scenes from the Life of St Benedict (1709; examples in Paris, Louvre; Béziers, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Perpignan, Musée Rigaud; Brussels, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts) for St Martin-des-Champs, and a St Matthew (1710; destroyed 1748) for the cupola of St Roch, both in Paris.

Among the secular works of his early career are the paintings originally intended for the Pavillon de la Ménagerie at Versailles, including Arion Playing the Lyre (1701; Compiegne, Château), and Hector Taking Leave of Andromache with its pendant Ulysses Taking Astyanax away from Andromache (both untraced), painted in 1708 for Armand-Gaston I de Rohan-Soubise (1674-1749); he also painted contemporary historical subjects (e.g. Battle of Kassel, Siege of Saint Omer; both untraced) for the funeral of Philippe I, Duc d'Orléans (d 1701).