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Francois Lemoyne

1688 Paris
1737 Paris

The French painter François Lemoyne was born in 1688 in Paris. He received his first artistic instruction from his stepfather Robert le Vrac, who was known as "Tourniers" (1667–1752). Starting in 1701, he was a student of Louis Galloche (1670–1761) at the Académie Royale and also had some lessons from Pierre-Jacques Cazes (1676–1754), who influenced François Lemoyne‘s coloring in particular. In 1706, Lemoyne received a third-place medal. This was followed by a first-place medal in 1707. He won the Prix de Rome in 1711, but did avail himself of the subsequent visit to Rome. The artist was accepted as an Agrée in the Académie Royale in 1716 and appointed as a full member in 1718 on the basis of his work "Hercules Kills Cacus".
In 1723, François Lemoyne created the ceiling fresco of "The Transfiguration" in the chancel of the Jacobin Church (now called the Parish Church of St. Thomas d’Aquin) in Paris. "Lemoyne" produced this colossal painting for a low fee to prove his abilities as a painter and decorator in a grand style. He interrupted this work for seven months and took a study trip to Bologna, Rome, Naples, and Venice together with François Berger, who he had met the previous year. During this period, he created the works "Hercules and Omphale" and "Young Woman Getting into the Bath".
After François Lemoyne‘s return to Paris in 1727, he completed the ceiling fresco for the Jacobins. Because of the work "The Continence of Scipio" the artist received a special prize in 1727 and was appointed to be a professor adjoint. In that same year, François Lemoyne received the commission for the fresco of the Assunta in the dome of the Chapel of Our Lady at the St. Sulpice Church and painted it from 1731-32. In 1733, this was followed by his appointment as a professor of the Académie Royale and as the "Premier peintre du roi" in 1736. The "Apotheosis of Hercules" (1733–36), the ceiling painting for the ballroom of Versailles that is the Hercules Salon, was painted during this period after it was originally commissioned in 1727.
Because of overwork and the envy of his colleagues, especially of Jean François de Troy (1679–1752), the innate melancholy of the painter intensified into a persecution complex. François Lemoyne committed suicide in Paris on June 4, 1737. Lemoyne’s documented students included François Boucher (1703–70), Charles Joseph Natoire (1700–77), and Donat Nonotte (1708–85). Nonotte supported Lemoyne in the two most important large decorative compositions in St. Sulpice and Versailles, later becoming his biographer. In the years from 1731 to 1737, Laurent Cars (1699–1771) worked at the artist’s studio.

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