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(b Paris, 2 Nov. 1699; d Paris, 6 Dec. 1779). French painter of still life and genre, in which fields he was one of the greatest masters of all time. (His forenames have traditionally been given as Jean-Baptiste-Siméon, but the ‘Baptiste’ seems to have been a scribe's error, and Jean-Siméon is now the accepted form.) He was the contemporary of Boucher and he briefly taught Fragonard, but his work is a contrast to theirs in every way, representing the naturalistic strain—influenced by 17th-century Dutch painting—that ran through 18th-century French art alongside the more fashionable Rococo style. Almost all his pictures are modest in size and simple in subject, depicting objects and scenes from everyday middle-class life, and they create their magic through an extraordinarily subtle mastery of composition and colour, tone and texture (he was a notoriously slow and fastidious worker).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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