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Etienne Aubry



Aubry Etienne

(b Versailles, 10 Jan 1745; d Versailles, 24 July 1781). French painter. He trained under Jacques-Augustin Silvestre (1719–1809) and Joseph Marie Vien, exhibiting portraits at the Salon from 1771 and becoming a member of the Académie Royale as a portrait painter in 1775. His portraits of such eminent contemporaries as the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (Paris, Louvre) are characterized by a quiet, understated elegance. In 1775, ambitious to improve his status as an artist within the hierarchy of genres, he began to exhibit scenes of domestic life. Paternal Love (U. Birmingham, Barber Inst.) is indebted to the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, but the sentimental subject is depicted with a compositional clarity and restrained naturalism that make Aubry the most original and appealing of Greuze’s imitators. The Nurse’s Farewell (exh. Salon, 1777; Williamstown, MA, Clark A. Inst.) departs from prototypes by Greuze in its representation of a fashionable urban family in a landscape setting. In the late 1770s Aubry also painted melodramatic scenes, which demonstrate his desire to rival the success of Greuze’s Paternal Curse (Paris, Louvre). Aubry’s genre paintings were praised by contemporary critics, including Denis Diderot, and were bought by such notable collectors as the Comte d’Angiviller, Directeur des Bâtiments du Roi. In 1777, under the auspices of d’Angiviller, he went to Rome in order to study to become a history painter, but his progress disappointed the hopes of his patrons. Aubry’s later paintings are untraced; his posthumously exhibited Coriolanus’ Farewell to his Wife (exh. Salon, 1781; untraced) inspired many critics to express regret for his early death.


Portrait of Louis-Claude Vassé



Victoire de France playing her harp



Paternal Love, c. 1775



Farewell to the Nurse




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