The Wallace Collection

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Louis-Michel Vanloo (1707 - 1771)
  • Place of Birth: Toulon, France
  • Place of Death: Paris, France
Works of Art

Louis-Michel van Loo was one of the most influential portrait painters of the eighteenth century and a member of the dynasty of painters of the van Loo family who were active across Europe. Born on 2 March 1707 in Toulon, as the son of Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684 1745) withz whom he learned in Turin and Rome and then became a student at the Paris Academy. He won the Grand prix in 1725 and returned to Rome in 1728, accompanied by his uncle Carle van Loo and his brother François. After a short stay in Turin, he returned to Paris in 1730 and became a full member of the Académie in 1733 (with a painting of Apollo and Daphne; Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts). His speciality increasingly became portrait painting on which he built an impressive international career. He was in Turin 1733-4 and worked in Madrid as Painter to Philip V of Spain, then Ferdinand VI of Spain 1737-52. He played an active role in founding the Academy in Madrid. Although mainly painting portraits he also produced tapestry designs and history paintings.

Back in France van Loo became the leading portrait painter for the Royal court, continuing his Spanish success but his clientele extended far beyond the Royal court. He exhibited at the Salon 1753-69, visited London in 1764 and succeeded his uncle as head of the Ecole royale des élèves protégés in 1765. Though principally a portrait painter, he also painted historical and mythological subjects. He died in Paris on 20 March 1771.

Following the usual practice at the time, van Loo's Royal portraits both in Spain and in France were copied extensively to serve as official images of the ruler.