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Portrait of Alexis Piron (?), c. 1737

Louis Tocqué
French, 1696-1772
Oil on canvas
50-1/2 x 38 in. (128.3 x 96.5 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

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Louis Tocqué studied with the fashionable portrait painter Jean-Marc Nattier's 1685–1766. He later became Nattier’s son-in-law when he married his daughter Marie. A skilled portraitist, Tocqué’s paintings found positive receptions at the annual Salon and paintings by him were commissioned by the royal courts of both Russia and Denmark. If the identification of the sitter portrayed here is indeed Alexis Piron, 1689–1773, then we are presented with the visage of a renowned French poet and humorist whose sharp wit was both deeply appreciated and feared. The vivid characterization of his face, the slight turn of his head, and the accoutrements piled on the desk behind him combine to convey a sense of liveliness.

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