LARGILLIÈRE, Nicolas de
(b. 1656, Paris, d. 1746, Paris)
The Artist and his Familyc. 1710
Oil on canvas, 149 x 200 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Largillière's normal handling of paint is matched by a freedom and naturalness in the settings of many of his portraits, with often gracefully rustic, open-air scenery anticipatory more of Gainsborough's portraits than of any vein of later French portraiture. The Portrait of a Family has about it an informality and relaxation which the rich costume of the mother and daughter cannot disguise, unsuitable though it appears for such a deeply countrified location. The father, with his gun, dead game, and lively-eyed hound, is more suitably set. But all this is a tribute to the sensitivity of Largillière's response - to the setting as much as to his human sitters. He 'portrays' the rugged bark of the oak tree at the right of the composition and the curling shapes of its russet-tinted leaves with a directness unprepared for in French painting.