Jean-François de Troy was born early on in 1679 in Paris. His father was a portrait painter, but Jean-François really had no interest in that. He grew up enjoying life, that is, creating scandals and living in leisure. On his fathers dime he traveled to Italy and spent some time there at the French Academy in Rome, and in the bed of a Judge's young wife. (tsk!)
He began a career in art, not painting portraits like his father, but large scale works of mythology and religious imagery. His talent seemed to exceed father's and he mastered another subject - depictions of everyday Parisian life. Images of the well to do doing well, and doing typical polite everyday things. This was different; his works represented a true glimpse into the lives of the upper class.
|Jean-François de Troy, Reading from Moliere. Private Collection.|
This is a painting called Reading from Moliere, and it shows a group of upper class Parisians gathered for an evening of good conversation and agreeable company. It is a perfectly natural and honest evening of friends being social in a private setting. Like a snapshot of the moment some of figures are engaged mid-sentence while others look up or turn their heads to acknowledge you. No one is plotting, or misbehaving.
These paintings seem to be some of the most believable historical records (visual records!) because, they are not a Hogarth or Watteau. Believable because there is no funny business happening! No exaggerated decoration, no lesson to be learned. Just a lesson in social history- the polite manners and life style of the more privileged life.