François-André Vincent main competitor of Jacques-Louis David in the market of historical paintings in the era of Neoclassicism
François-André Vincent (December 30, 1746 August 4, 1816) a famous French painter of the second half of the 18th early 19th centuries, an outstanding representative of neoclassicism. André Vincent was a recognized master of the historical genre in European fine art, among the masterpieces of his work there are also many portraits of his contemporaries. Nowadays, the best paintings of the artist are in museums in France, and his biography is the subject of close study of specialists.
François-André Vincent devoted a lot of time and effort to teaching young colleagues. Among his students there are many famous artists, including:
- Horace Vernet;
- Jean-Bruno Gassies;
- Jean Alaux;
- Louis-Marie Guichard;
- Edouard Picot.
François-André Vincent was born on December 30, 1746 in Paris. His father, François-Élie Vincent, was of Swiss origin who lived most of his life in France and achieved recognition through his skillful portrait miniatures. From early childhood, François-André was fond of drawing and spent a lot of time in his father’s workshop, who in every possible way developed his son’s abilities and taught him the basics of painting.
As a teenager, Vincent Jr. entered the private art school of Joseph-Marie Vien, under whose guidance he achieved significant success in education. In 1768, he won the Rome Prize by submitting to the competition a large-scale historical painting “Germanicus Soothes Confusion in His Camp.”
For the next three years, the young painter remained in Paris, and then left for Italy. A stay in Rome made a huge impression on Vincent, here he could enjoy the masterpieces of the great masters of the past for a long time and improve his skills by copying their works. After four years in the Villa Medici, François-André Vincent returned home, where he began his independent career as a professional artist.
In 1777, the talented painter became a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts
From that moment on, he received the right to participate in the annual art salons. His historical paintings invariably aroused great interest among the public, and the magnificent Jacques-Louis David remained the main rival of Vincent in the struggle for the hearts of the audience for many years. Nevertheless, it was François-André who in 1790 was appointed the last court painter of Louis XVI. Alas, by that time France was going through an era of turbulent upheavals, and the position once desired for any master had lost its prestige.
Vincent’s personal life developed in a very non-standard way. While studying with Vien, he met a charming neighbor, Adelaide Labille, who took private painting lessons from him. Young people had tender feelings for each other, but were forced to part: the parents gave the girl in marriage to a wealthy official, and François-André left for Rome.
Upon Vincent’s return from Italy, they met again, and forgotten feelings flared up with renewed vigor. Adelaide had to work hard to achieve a divorce from her husband. And only in 1800 did a couple of lovers officially formalize their marriage, which lasted a little over three years. In 1803, Adelaide died, and François-André remained a widower until the end of his life.
During the French Revolution, the artist stayed away from the turbulent political events.
At heart, he remained a monarchist, but he was forced to hide his sympathies, fearing terror. In 1796, François-André Vincent was one of the founders of the National Academy of Arts, and Napoleon, who soon came to power, was very respectful of the master’s work and made him a Knight of the Legion of Honor.
However, already at the beginning of the 19th century, the artist began to experience serious health problems, and after the death of his wife he practically stopped creating paintings. In recent years, the once popular painter spent alone and gradually people around him forgot about him. And on August 4, 1816, François-André Vincent passed into eternity in his Parisian home at the age of 69, leaving no direct descendants behind.
The most famous paintings by François-André Vincent
The famous French artist presented to mankind many skillful masterpieces. And yet the most famous paintings by François-André Vincent are:
- Germanicus Calms the Confusion in His Camp (1768) a work that brought the young painter wide recognition to the Parisian public. The work, which won the highest prize in the annual competition for the Rome Prize, now adorns the interior of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
- Belisarius (1776) is one of the master’s most recognizable masterpieces. In the picture, the artist portrayed a formidable Roman military leader in the past in the form of a decrepit old man forced to beg the soldiers for alms.
- “Wilhelm Tell overturns the boat on which Governor Gessler crosses Lake Lucerne” (1791) a painting based on the ancient legends about a skillful arrow. On it, the people’s hero of Switzerland deftly deals with the cruel governor of the German emperor for his atrocities.
- “Allegory of the liberation of the Algerian slaves by Jerome Bonaparte” (1806) is the last work written by the great artist. The painting glorifying the power of Napoleon has nothing to do with the historical realities of that time, but is of great artistic value for connoisseurs of art.
François-André Vincent is rightfully one of the best French masters of historical painting of the Neoclassical era.