John Francis Rigaud

John Francis Rigaud

John Francis Rigaud (18 May 1742 – 6 December 1810) was an eighteenth-century history, portrait, and decorative painter.

Rigaud was born in Turin on 18 May 1742 and baptized on 9 September. He was the second son of James Dutilh or Rigaud and Jeanne Françoise Guiraudet. His father came from a family of Protestant merchants; his grandfather Jacques Dutilh, and his family, had fled from Lyon to Geneva after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Jacques died on the journey, and his widow assumed her maiden name—Rigaud—by which the family became known.Cust and Myrone, "John Francis Rigaud".]

After demonstrating artistic ability, Rigaud studied with Cav. Claudio Francesco Beaumont of Turin, historical painter to the king of Sardinia. He left Beaumont to travel Italy and study the art of painting in Florence and in Bologna, where he was made a member of the Accademia Clementina in 1766. He next traveled to Rome, but had to return home due to family considerations. In January 1768, he traveled once again, this time to Piacenza, Parma, Bologna, and Rome. He settled there and studied the city's art, particularly the old masters, and participated in life-drawing schools. He produced what the "Dictionary of National Biography" article describes as "one of his most important works" there: "Hercules Resting from his Labours". While in Rome, Rigaud became friends with the Swedish sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel and the Irish painter James Barry. In April 1770, he and Barry traveled together to Florence, Bologna, and Turin. Rigaud himself went to Paris for a short time and then to London in December 1771. He exhibited his "Hercules" at the Royal Academy in 1772 and was elected an associate that same year.

While Rigaud consistently exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy, "his most lucrative and engrossing employment was decorative painting for the town and country houses of the nobility, including Lord Gower, Lord Sefton, and the earl of Aylesford". The architect William Chambers offered him work in London at Melbourne' House in Piccadilly (1772 and 1774) and Somerset House (1780). He also helped decorate the common council chamber of the Guildhall in London (1794) and for Trinity House (1796). According to the "Dictionary of National Biography", [t] hese works were all executed in the fashionable Italian style of G. B. Cipriani and Biagio Rebecca, being mostly classical figures and imitations of bas-reliefs".Rigaud also produced history paintings, such as "Entry of the Black Prince into London with his Royal Prisoner" (1775), as well as several pictures for the galleries of Thomas Macklin, Robert Bowyer, and the Shakespeare Gallery of John Boydell in the late 1780s. He was also commissioned to paint two religious works: "Descent from the Cross" for the Roman Catholic chapel in the Sardinian embassy in London in 1780 and "Accession" for St Martin's Outwich in 1797. According to the "Dictionary of National Biography", "his historical paintings were not well received".

Rigaud was also a portrait painter, and painted a group portrait of the artists Francesco Bartolozzi, Agostino Carlini, and Giovanni Battista Cipriani in 1777 and of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Sir William Chambers, and Joseph Wilton in 1782. He also painted a series of naval heroes, including Lord Nelson. According to the "Dictionary of National Biography", " [h] is portraits tend to be strongly characterized and boldly conceived, even occasionally eccentric".

On 10 February 1784 Rigaud was formally elected to the Royal Society, with "Samson Breaking his Bands" as his diploma work. In 1795, he was appointed historical painter to Gustavus IV of Sweden and was made a member of the Royal Academy of Stockholm. However, after 1800, according to the "Dictionary of National Biography", "Rigaud's career as a painter seems to have declined". He translated Leonardo da Vinci's "A Treatise on Painting" (1802) and he restored painted decorations such as those in Greenwich Hospital and Montague House.

Rigaud and Mary Williams (1740? – 1808) married on 21 July 1774. The couple had three daughters and one son, Stephen Francis Dutilh Rigaud, who also became a painter. After his wife's death, Righad lived with his son. He died from apoplexy on 6 December 1810 at Packington Hall in Warwickshire and was buried in Packington.



*Cust, L. H. and Martin Myrone. "John Francis Rigaud" "DNB". "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. 2004. Retrieved on 2 February 2008.

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