The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
He was a portrait painter par excellence. There seems to be little,
in fact, that he did not paint well, whether it be portraits, history, landscape,
or still life. He was French, but his paintings looked Flemish, with an English
accent. He was born in the 13th year of the reign of Louis XIV and died in
the 31st year of the reign of Louis' great-grandson, Louis XV. The nobility,
always desirous of flattering likenesses, was at his disposal; he preferred
instead to paint the wealthy bourgeoisie. Self-conscious about their new status,
they always paid their bills on time. As a result, and with a little judicious
money management, he became the wealthiest painter in all of France, as well
as one of its most popular and respected. Ironically, he is remembered today
not so much for his portraits, which are very good, but for his most famous
student, Jean-Baptiste Oudry (JAMA cover, December 15, 1999), and for Jean-Baptiste-Siméon
Chardin (JAMA cover, January 12, 2000), a young unknown whom he sponsored
for immediate membership in the Royal Academy, so the story goes, on the basis
of a single painting he came upon "accidentally" one day. The "accidentally"
was perhaps true for him, but certainly not for Chardin, who, again, as the
story goes, had carefully arranged the whole incident.
Southgate MT. Elizabeth Throckmorton. JAMA. 2000;283(5):573. doi:10.1001/jama.283.5.573