Alexandre François Desportes France

2-24-1661 Champigneulle, FRA —4-20-1743 Paris, FRA

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Desportes, Alexandre François

At the age of twelve, Alexandre-François Desportes was sent by his father to Paris to study painting, in the studio of the Flemish painter Nicasius Bernaerts, a pupil of Frans Snyders. After a brief period in Poland, where he painted a number of portraits of members of the Polish royal family, 1695–96, he painted portraits of John III Sobieski and Polish aristocrats; after the king's death Desportes returned to Paris, convinced that he should specialize in animals and flowers.

He was received by the Académie de peinture et de sculpture in 1699, with the Self-Portrait in Hunting Dress now in the Musée du Louvre. In 1712–13 he spent six months in England. He received many commissions for decorative panels for the royal chateau: Versailles, Marly, Meudon, Compiègne and, his last royal commission, for Louis XV at Choisy, 1742. Both Louis XIV and Louis XV commissioned portraits of their favorite hunting dogs.

Alexandre-François Desportes would follow the royal hunt with a small notebook he carried to make on-site sketches for still lives of the game that resulted from the day's hunt, for the king to make a choice of which were to be worked up into finished paintings.

His details of trophies of game or animals were used in cartoons for tapestry in which work of several painters was combined, woven at the Savonnerie and at the Gobelins.

At his death, in Paris, he left a considerable amount of work in his studio which included studies of animals and plants as well as some fox-hunting sketches. In 1784, the comte d'Angiviller, general director of the Bâtiments du Roi acquired these resources for painter's models for the manufacture of Sèvres porcelain, so that Alexandre-François Desportes' influence in the iconography of French arts extended almost throughout the century.

Art Movement: Naturalism
Influences: Nicasius Bernaerts
Traveled: Poland, England
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