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Joshua Drapkin

(b Montpellier, June 18, 1716; d Paris, March 27, 1809).

French painter, draughtsman and engraver. He was one of the earliest French painters to work in the Neo-classical style, and although his own work veered uncertainly between that style and the Baroque, Vien was a decisive influence on some of the foremost artists of the heroic phase of Neo-classicism, notably Jacques-Louis David, Jean-François-Pierre Peyron, Joseph-Benoît Suvée and Jean-Baptiste Regnault, all of whom he taught. Both his wife, Marie-Thérèse Reboul (1738–1805), and Joseph-Marie Vien fils (1762–1848) were artists: Marie-Thérèse exhibited at the Salon in 1757–67; Joseph-Marie fils earned his living as a portrait painter and engraver.

After spending his youth in various forms of employment, including work as a painter of faience and as an assistant to the artist Jacques Giral, Vien travelled to Paris and entered the studio of Charles-Joseph Natoire in 1740. Three years later he won the Prix de Rome and in 1744 went to the Académie de France in Rome. His participation in the energetic reappraisal of form, technique and purpose taking place in French art from the mid-1740s onwards is well demonstrated by paintings executed before and during his time in Italy. These include the ...