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The Cover
February 2, 2000

Elizabeth Throckmorton

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(5):573. doi:10.1001/jama.283.5.573

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.

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