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Caylus, Comte de  

Danielle Rice

[Tubières de Grimoard de Pestels de Lévis, Anne-Claude-Philippe de]

(b Paris, Oct 31, 1692; d Paris, Sept 5, 1765).

French amateur engraver, antiquarian, patron and writer. Born into an old aristocratic family, he enjoyed all of the privileges of his class, including a large private income, free time, access to artists and collectors, and mobility. He entered the army and distinguished himself in battle at an early age. In 1714 he spent a year in Italy, where he developed a lifelong passion for the arts, especially for antiquities. After the death of Louis XIV in 1715, Caylus resigned his military post and shortly thereafter undertook a hazardous journey to Turkey. In pursuit of ancient sites rarely seen by European eyes at this time, he negotiated with the local bandit chieftain for safe passage to the ruins of Ephesos and Colophon.

In 1719 Caylus settled in Paris, where he remained with the exception of a brief trip to Holland and England in 1722. He began frequenting the weekly gatherings held by Pierre Crozat, a wealthy financier and collector. Crozat’s circle included many important artists as well as connoisseurs and aestheticians who met to study his extensive collection of Old Master paintings and drawings and to debate theories of art. In this lively company, Caylus developed his eye and learnt etching and engraving from the artist ...


Descamps, Jean-Baptiste  

Amal Asfour

(b Dunkirk, June 14, 1715; d Rouen, July 14, 1791).

French painter, writer and dealer. He began his artistic training in Dunkirk, continuing it in Antwerp. In Paris, Descamps frequented the studios of Nicolas Lancret and Nicolas de Largillierre and drew at the Académie Royale. He later settled in Rouen and gathered around him a circle of pupils to whom he taught drawing. By 1749 teaching had become formalized on the model of the Académie Royale in Paris and Descamps’s institution was granted the title of Ecole Royale, Gratuite et Académique de Dessin, de Peinture, de Sculpture et d’Architecture. It became the model for other provincial academies.

In April 1764 Descamps was made a member of the Académie Royale in Paris on submission of the painting Peasant Girl in her Kitchen (Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). He was admitted to the Académie as a ‘peintre dans le genre des sujets populaires’. His paintings, which typically depict scenes of daily life, were influenced by the work of Chardin and Greuze. He exhibited several genre paintings at the Salon of ...


Giraud, Jean-Baptiste  

Pascal Griener

(b Aix-en-Provence, June 21, 1752; d Bouleau, Seine-et-Marne, Feb 13, 1830).

French sculptor and writer. He worked for a goldsmith in Paris before devoting himself to sculpture, in which he was self-taught. Thanks to an allowance from an uncle who had adopted him, he was able to study sculpture in Italy in the early 1780s; there he struck up a friendship with Jacques-Louis David. On his return he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale in Paris in 1788, and was received (reçu) as a member in the following year. On coming into a fortune, he returned in 1790 to Italy, where he lived until 1793, chiefly in Florence, Rome and Naples. He brought back with him what was the richest collection in France of plaster casts after antique sculpture, which he exhibited to the public at his house in the Place Vendôme, Paris. When, in 1796, Napoleon plundered some of the best-known antique sculptures of Rome, Giraud protested about their removal....


Guarienti, Pietro Maria  

Janet Southorn

(b Verona, c. 1700; d Dresden, May 27, 1753).

Italian painter, writer and connoisseur. Orphaned at the age of 11, he trained for three years with the Veronese painter Biagio Falcieri (1628–1703). With the help of a member of the Bolognese Albergati family, he then moved to Bologna, where for the next seven years he studied with Giuseppe Maria Crespi. In 1725 he became a member of the Bolognese Accademia Clementina. For the next 20 years he worked in Venice, more as a connoisseur than as a painter. By his own account, his chief wish had always been to make himself expert in connoisseurship and he had accordingly read widely, studied works of art with care (copying sections in order to understand better the styles of different artists) and travelled throughout Italy and in England, Germany and Spain, taking every opportunity to see the works of Old Masters. He thus developed an intimate knowledge of artistic style, which, as he observed in ...


Hagedorn, Christian Ludwig von  

Andrea M. Kluxen

(b Hamburg, Feb 14, 1712; d Dresden, Jan 25, 1780).

German diplomat, theorist, collector and etcher. The brother of the poet Friedrich von Hagedorn (1708–54), from 1735 he served in the Saxon diplomatic service. Travelling through Germany and Austria, he met and corresponded with several artists and art theorists, including Johann Joachim Winckelmann, J. G. Sulzer and Salomon Gessner. His collection of paintings and drawings—primarily Dutch and German 17th- and 18th-century work, especially landscapes—became famous, and his advice on art matters was widely appreciated. In 1764 he became director of the Saxon art collections and art schools in Dresden.

Hagedorn’s Lettre à un amateur de la peinture avec des éclairissements historiques … (Dresden, 1755), combining a description of his collection with biographies of 18th-century artists, was, according to its author, a continuation of the Teutsche Academie by Joachim von Sandrart; it remains an important source for art history. The Betrachtungen über die Mahlerey (Leipzig, 1762) and numerous essays that appeared in the ...


Ploos van Amstel, Cornelis  

P. Knolle

(b Weesp, Jan 4, 1726; d Amsterdam, Dec 20, 1798).

Dutch timber merchant, collector, printmaker, print publisher, draughtsman and art theorist. He was one of the most important Dutch dilettanti of the 18th century. His interest in art began at an early age, and from the age of 12 he was taught drawing by Norbert van Bloemen (1670–1746). Two years later he began to learn the timber trade with Johannes Bontekoning, in whose firm, Bontekoning and Aukes, he became a partner in 1756. Ploos’s first mezzotint dates from that year. He made drawings throughout his life, in a technically skilled rather than original style, and designed book illustrations. In 1758 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Cornelis Troost.

In the meantime Ploos van Amstel assembled a fabulous collection of drawings (he possessed over 7000 when he died), prints (including many topographical prints of Amsterdam), paintings, sculptures, enamels, medals, coins, scientific instruments and optical tools, and manuscripts and printed books. His special interest in drawings, particularly those by Dutch artists from the 17th and 18th centuries, is reflected in his ...


Reynolds, Sir Joshua  

David Mannings

(b Plympton, Devon, July 16, 1723; d London, Feb 23, 1792).

English painter, collector and writer. The foremost portrait painter in England in the 18th century, he transformed early Georgian portraiture by greatly enlarging its range. His poses, frequently based on the Old Masters or antique sculpture, were intended to invoke classical values and to enhance the dignity of his sitters. His rich colour, strong lighting and free handling of paint greatly influenced the generation of Thomas Lawrence and Henry Raeburn. His history and fancy pictures explored dramatic and emotional themes that became increasingly popular with both artists and collectors in the Romantic period. As first president of the Royal Academy in London, he did more than anyone to raise the status of art and artists in Britain. His Discourses on Art, delivered to the students and members of the Academy between 1769 and 1790, are the most eloquent and widely respected body of art criticism by any English writer.

Although Reynolds’s father, a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and master of Plympton Grammar School, had intended that his son train as an apothecary, Joshua chose instead to seek fame as a painter. In ...


Richardson, Jonathan  

David Rodgers

(b London, 1665; d Bloomsbury, May 28, 1745).

English painter, writer and collector. He trained as a portrait painter in the studio of John Riley, later marrying Riley’s niece and living in his house until Riley’s death. The double portrait of Lady Catherine Herbert and her Brother Robert (1698; Wilton House, Wilts), among the finest of his early works, owes an obvious debt to Riley, but by 1711, when Richardson painted Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham (Cambridge, St John’s Coll.), he had developed his own style. Tighter and more formal than that of his master, with a smooth finish described by Sir Joshua Reynolds as ‘cold and hard’, it was better suited to male than female sitters, and his most successful female portrait is that of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1719; Sandon Park, Staffs, priv. col.), a woman of strong mind and independent opinions. Richardson’s career prospered and by 1731 he was described by Vertue as one of the three foremost masters of the day with Charles Jervas and Michael Dahl, and could charge 20 guineas a head and 70 for a full-length; he was certainly the leading London portrait painter after the death of Sir Godfrey Kneller in ...


Soane [né Soan], Sir John  

David Watkin

(b Goring on Thames, Oxon, Sept 10, 1753; d London, Jan 20, 1837).

English architect and collector. Soane has long been recognized as the most original architect in Britain, and possibly in Europe, around 1800. Intent on returning to first principles, he developed a personal language of strange and often bizarre poetry that found no real imitators and, although steeped in the Classical tradition, he reduced the orders to a system of incised lines that are a parallel to the fundamentalist doctrines of the Abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier. At the same time he bathed his interiors in light from hidden sources in a manner that, while ultimately Baroque, may owe something to Piranesi.

Born in modest circumstances as the son of a bricklayer, Soane was trained for four years from 1768 by the inventive architect George Dance (ii) before working in the office of Henry Holland from 1772 to 1777. Later in his career Soane developed his architectural ideas in close but informal association with Dance, his ‘revered master’, with whom he shared a preoccupation with toplighting and a concern to create what Dance called ‘unshackled’ architecture. In ...


Watelet, Claude-Henri  

(b Paris, Aug 28, 1718; d Paris, Jan 12, 1786).

French government official, writer, collector and amateur painter and engraver. He was the son of Nicolas-Robert Watelet, Receveur-général des Finances in Orléans, and in 1740 inherited his father’s lucrative post, as well as the family fortune. In his youth he travelled in Germany and to Vienna, Naples and Rome; in the latter city he lodged with the Painter to the King, Jean-Baptiste Pierre. By the late 1750s Watelet’s country house near Paris, Le Moulin-Joli, had become a meeting-place for intellectual society, being frequented, among others, by the Comte de Caylus, the Marquis d’Argenson, the poet Jean-François Marmontel (1723–99), the Abbé Jacques Delille (1738–1813) and the Marquise de Pompadour. With their encouragement Watelet published in 1760 L’Art de peindre, a long didactic poem on the principles and techniques of painting, which won him election in 1760 to the Académie Française.

In 1763 Watelet, accompanied by his mistress, Mme Marguerite Le Comte, and by his former teacher, the Abbé Copette, made a journey to Italy, where they were official guests of the King of Sardinia, the French Embassy and the Académie de France in Rome. The trip was commemorated by the publication in ...