Rigaud, HyacintheHarold Osborne / Marc Jordan
French portrait painter, the rival of Largillierre and the outstanding court portraitist at the end of Louis XIV's reign. He was born in Perpignan and trained in Montpellier and Lyons. He arrived in Paris in 1681 and by 1688 had gained an influential clientele at court. Using patterns derived from van Dyck (and ultimately from Titian) he developed a style of sumptuous dignity that remained the norm for formal portraiture up until the Revolution and which was revived for royal images at
the Bourbon Restoration. His most famous work of this kind is the full-length
state portrait of the elderly Louis XIV (1701; Paris, Louvre). To modern eyes
this throughly Baroque image, so cruelly mocked in a caricature by Thackeray, epitomizes all that is most false in a tradition that places the symbols of rank above the personality of the individual. Nevertheless, within the bounds of decorum, Rigaud had a good eye for character, as is clear from one of his most spectacular portraits,
Cardinal de Bouillon (1709; Perpignan, Mus. Rigaud). Like his contemporary the
sculptor Coysevox, Rigaud also made alongside his official portraits a number of intimate studies of friends and family, which have a Rembrandtesque truthfulness about them. They include the double portrait Marie Serre, the Artist's Mother (1695; Paris, Louvre), which was, in fact, made for a bust by Coysevox.
Osborne, Harold and Marc Jordan . "Rigaud, Hyacinthe." The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford Art Online. 5 Mar. 2011