Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jacques-Laurent Agasse

The Nubian Giraffe
oil on canvas
127.3 x 101.7 cm
location unknown

"Agasse, the celebrated animal painter, now in England, owed his fortune to an accident. About eight years ago, he being then in Switzerland, a rich Englishman asked him to paint his favourite dog which had died. The Englishman was so pleased with his work that he took the painter to England with him." (From Wikipedia)

Jacques Laurent Agasse (1767-1849), born at Geneva, was the most accomplished painter of animals that Switzerland has ever produced, and amongst the most refined painter of such paintings to work in England. He lived in London for the last 50 years of his life. His paintings were of the utmost technical refinement and delicacy, and were superbly observed and drawn.

His childhood was exceptionally happy, spent between the family's houses in town and country: in the latter he spent much of his time in the stables, kennels and farm-yard. His father enrolled him in the Calabri Academy of Drawing in 1782. From 1786-9 he moved to Paris where he worked as a pupil and assistant in David's studio. By the onset of the French Revolution, which had the effect of ruining his parents' business, his stay in Paris was brought to a close. He stayed in Switzerland for another decade, before arriving in England, via a second stay in Paris, in 1800. His life in London was marked by a great success as an animal painter.