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The Cover
June 16, 1999

Ceres (Summer)

JAMA. 1999;281(23):2167. doi:10.1001/jama.281.23.2167

His life was brief, like a butterfly's, his paintings as delicate as dust left by butterfly wings. Had he been a poet, he would have belonged to the category of lyrical poet. But he was a painter, and his tools were color and canvas. From the glitter and greed and excesses of the Parisian court of the early decades of the 18th century, he spun a gossamer world that was as beautiful as it was unreal. Paris became the mythical Eleusis, his paintings offerings to the fine art of pleasure, and he the creator of a new category of salon painting, fêtes galantes. He was born French, but just barely; until six years before his birth his town had belonged to Flanders. If his paintings are today considered French, his heart, perhaps his hand as well, remained Flemish, for, after the Venetians Titian and Veronese, the two painters he most admired were Teniers and Rubens. Some of his paintings, in fact, resemble nothing so much as slimmed-down Rubens.

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